Concern for mental health in virus wave



There is concern people in NSW needing mental health support are not reaching out for help amid the COVID-19 Omicron wave.

The pattern has been observed since the start of the pandemic two years ago, NSW Chief Psychiatrist Murray Wright said on Tuesday.

“We have seen some concerning signals that people with serious mental health issues might be avoiding seeking acute care, or attending our emergency departments,” NSW chief psychiatrist Dr Wright told reporters.

“I understand why some people might feel that they’re helping the system by staying away and delaying their access to care.

“Delaying or avoiding care for someone who needs mental health can derail recovery.”

Care remains available for people who need it “whether you have COVID or not”, Dr Wright added.

“Each new wave of the pandemic has brought its own challenges and fears and dangers and processing these and making the necessary adjustments is emotionally and mentally draining,” he said.

Things like the return-to-school next week, with multiple changes for teachers and students, are “genuinely stressful”, he said.

The plan for reopening schools includes twice weekly rapid tests for students and teachers, and mask mandates for all teachers and high school students.

People feeling stressed by changes like the return-to-school should reach out to their GPs, or reach out to helpline services including Lifeline, Beyond Blue, or Kids Helpline.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says the return-to-school is “essential”, not just for students’ academic progress but for their social lives and mental health.

Some students in NSW had missed up to a quarter of their face-to-face schooling over the pandemic, he said.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Lifeline 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)


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