A Horsham social worker has suggested Wimmera residents do their best to stay away from drinking and binge-eating while adhering to social distancing measures.
Tim O'Donnell receives many of his clients through referrals from concerned relatives. He is expecting more Wimmera residents to contact him and other mental health support providers in coming months.
"I will keep seeing people while practicing social distancing," he said. "A lot of people are saying they want to do it over video and teleconferencing which is fine - medicare is allowing that to occur and there is a special funding stream now that people can tick COVID-19 to access."
"Some people who were paying their therapist out of their own pocket won't be able to in the next couple of months if they aren't working, so that's when I think there will be a build up in people presenting to the doctor for mental health support."
Mr O'Donnell said it was important residents left the house as often as they could.
"People get caught in a routine and if they are strict about that, they could end up with some temporary depression or anxiety when it changes for reasons beyond their control," he said.
"I think there will be a bit of alcohol being drunk. If people are bored and they have nothing to do, that will be a problem. When you are bored it's about finding positive alternatives to occupy your time. Through youtube for example you can access exercise programs that you can do instead of going to the gym.
"Another problem that could come up in binge eating, so people when they do go to the supermarket need to make good choices.
"Sleeping problems can be an issue as well and losing track of time, and that happens to anyone who is unemployed generally. Having a routine even if you aren't working is important.
Headspace Horsham manager Liz Rowe said the youth mental health service was still operational.
"We are considered an essential service, and we are swapping over this week to be telephone and telehealth counselling only," she said.
"It's situation normal: If you make a call to the service, we will talk to you and take referrals across, we will have people that can direct you to what to look for online, and if we are going to run some group stuff we will be sending it out and letting people know.
Ms Rowe said the Hamilton Street centre had not seen an increase in the number of calls it received.
Uniting Wimmera executive officer Josh Koenig said people could call 1800 195 114 to access the emergency relief and support services it provided.
"Whether we offer the service or not - it might be a Grampians Community Health service - we can take some details, get some basic information and make sure they get in contact with the most appropriate support.
Uniting Wimmera offers financial support including food, transport and chemist vouchers, and mental health recovery support among its programs.
On March 18, Lifeline Australia chairman John Brogden said the service will continue to answer calls throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline 13 11 14. Visit the eheadspace website or call 1800 650 890.
- Mensline: 1300 78 99 78
- Gambler's Help: 1800 858 858
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