Alarming mental health data prompts headspace to urge young people and families to seek support
Alarming findings released yesterday by YouGov regarding the stress Australians are feeling as a result of COVID-19 has prompted headspace to issue a warning to family, friends and young people to seek and access support if they’re not coping as early as possible. The survey, carried out between Thursday 9 April and Easter Monday, found one in four relationships are under strain, one in two people are feeling isolated and 57 per cent are feeling stress. Furthermore, the survey found that 54 per cent said restrictions due to COVID-19 were causing tension in the household.
In an effort to provide tools to support people through this time, headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation has created a resource for young people, family and friends on the ways in which people can try to understand and manage any conflict within their households that may be heightened as a result of COVID-19.
Vikki Ryall, Executive Director Clinical Practice at headspace said that during these unprecedented times, headspace is encouraging young people and families to look for trusted information, support and online tools that will help them to get through this period.
“As a society, we’ve never experienced anything like COVID-19. We want to remind people that there are things they can do to look after themselves and headspace will continue to provide young people and families with information and tools that might help them best manage what they’re going through. We acknowledge that for some people this might be a time of connection with families and coming together alongside increased stress.
“The fact sheet for managing family dynamics is accessible on the headspace website, and includes information about dealing with family conflict, understanding and managing emotions and communication techniques that can be helpful for people when it comes to managing conflict or tension.
“It’s important to remember that conflict is a normal part of all relationships. We know that it’s likely that tensions are heightened as a result of the stress of COVID-19 and subsequently, job losses and uncertainty regarding income, study and work.” Ryall said.
The research from YouGov also found that 70 per cent of respondents are drinking more than they normally would, prompting headspace to remind young people of the ways in which they can maintain a healthy headspace during this time including the importance of cutting back on alcohol and other drugs.
Speaking on the findings, headspace CEO, Jason Trethowan said, “It’s not surprising to learn that people are feeling more stressed as a result of COVID-19 and those feelings are entirely valid. These are very challenging times and we know that impacts of COVID-19 have the potential to be wide and far reaching.
“We want to remind people that there is support and trusted information available, including things like our seven tips for a healthy headspace that can be accessed during this time and incorporated into our lives.
“Proactively managing our mental health needs to be a priority, particularly in circumstances such as this where many people are really feeling the stress of what’s going on in the world. The tips include things like staying active, eating well, cutting back on alcohol and other drugs and finding ways to stay connected to our community and loved ones.
“We strongly encourage young people, family and friends to reach out for support if they need help getting through this time either for themselves or someone they’re worried about. Support is available and we want to reiterate to young people in the community that they are not alone and headspace is here to help.” Trethowan said.
Click here to access the headspace Fact Sheet on family conflict or any other materials on coping with stress related to COVID-19.
7 Tips for a healthy headspace:
- Stay active: Try doing an online fitness program or a yoga class on Instagram Live, challenge your friends to a push up challenge, get outside for fresh air or have a living room dance party – all great free ways to keep up physical and mental health.
- Eat well: Minimise unhealthy snacks while in isolation. It’s good to develop coping strategies that are not related to food. Make sure your diet includes things like: colourful fruits and vegetables, foods high in fibre (wholegrain cereals and bread, beans, chickpeas, lentils and nuts), fermented foods like unsweetened yogurt, olive oil, and fish (tinned is fine).
- Get enough sleep: Try to stick with a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time as much as possible and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Switch off from electronics 30-60 mins before bed.
- Cut back on alcohol and other drugs: Be mindful of your use of alcohol and other drugs during isolation. Try a short break - start with a few days and then try a week, consider alternatives like herbal tea, water or a smoothie, and find new activities to keep you engaged.
- Create connections: While we can’t physically connect with friends and loved ones, there’s so many other ways to stay connected. Try connecting by video chat through Zoom or house party or try a phone call with friends and family. Online video and board games can be used to connect with others.
- Get in to life: Set a goal or task that you want to achieve for the day - it can be something small like making your bed, going for a walk or calling a friend. Use this time to try some new hobbies and keep doing the things you love as best you can like reading, drawing or exercising.
- Learn skills for tough times: It might be helpful to learn new coping skills to maintain and improve wellbeing. Try journaling thoughts and feelings, practice some breathing exercises, explore mental health apps or websites, create a new routine, or take a digital detox.
17 April 2020