Human beings are social creatures – we have a natural need to have a meaningful connection with others. Due to COVID-19, your ability to have or develop these connections may have been negatively impacted over the last few months. This may have meant you experienced increased loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
With R U Okay Day and Mental Health Week taking place recently, the topic of mental wellbeing might be still fresh. However, conversations about mental health should be limited to one day or even one week but ongoing throughout the year.
We know from research that people with HIV experience high levels of social isolation. COVID-19 may have exacerbated anxiety and isolation further due to physical distancing and placed a strain on people’s mental health. Although restrictions have eased, the effects might have a lasting impact.
Beyond Blue has offered a few strategies to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing from home. These strategies are also accessible to those of us that have limited incomes.
Staying connected with loved ones – use your phone, social media and apps such as Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends. Touch base with someone every single day.
Doing things you enjoy – read that pile of books and watch those TV shows you missed. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make the most of it. Why not try a new pastime that you can do at home or online? Painting and listening to music are both great ways of relaxing and practising mindfulness. If you enjoy DYI, now’s a good time to knuckle down and get jobs done.
Staying healthy – focus on eating well and getting enough exercise and good-quality sleep. Take the time to cook from fresh, do online yoga or aerobics, meditate and focus on maintaining good sleep habits. Keeping up healthy routines will help both your physical and mental health.
Dodging the panic – try to limit your media and online exposure. Seek advice from credible sources only and don’t consume news all day long.
Reaching out -if you are finding that you are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out. If you need assistance please visit the dedicated Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service. Trained mental health professionals are available to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, via phone.
This last one is especially important! We understand that our communities may be doing it tough because of increased uncertainty about COVID-19, job security and social isolation. However, the team here at QPP are here to help in whatever way we can.
QPP in-person social groups will be starting up again soon and we will be providing more information about these events shortly. The QPP online social groups (on Zoom) are happening fortnightly, with the next one happening the 2nd of November at 6 PM-7 PM – check out our Facebook page for registration details.
In the meanwhile, if you feel that your mental health has suffered recently, or if you just need someone to talk to, please contact QPP. Our friendly, informative team of peers navigators are always available to connect through our online chat function (bottom right-hand side of the screen) or via telephone: 1800 636 241.
Again, we would like to emphasise that it is vital that you make your mental health and wellbeing a priority. Connect with friends, family or organisation that can help – some useful links to helpful services are provided below:
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support
- Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14 or https://www.lifeline.org.au/
- MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78 or https://mensline.org.au/