With around 3,000 of Melbourne's residents will be locked in nine public housing estates for at least five days due to a coronavirus outbreak the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry (RANZCP) Victorian Branch is urging the government to provide mental health support for these vulnerable communities.
Dr Kerryn Rubin, Chair of the RANZCP Victorian Branch, explains that whilst the need for this strong public health response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases is understood, it remains vital that the mental health and emotional wellbeing of this community remain at the forefront of the government’s priorities.
‘The existential threat and anxiety of living within a ‘hotspot’, possibly already infected by the coronavirus will be compounded by the impacts of social isolation and the loss of usual social supports (both informal and formal) with this mandatory lockdown’, said Dr Rubin.
‘In this context we have great concern for all of the residents of the hard lockdown buildings, who now find themselves without the freedom of movement, and stuck living in close quarters with numerous other people.
‘For some of these residents this necessary lockdown may still trigger previous traumatic experiences.
This time will be immensely difficult for those already experiencing or more vulnerable to developing mental ill health. The mental health and community impacts of mandatory lockdown present significant risks for those affected.
‘These include depression and anxiety, increased alcohol and other drug use, domestic violence, and the relapse or worsening of pre-existing conditions’, explained Dr Rubin.
‘It is vital that the public health response is accompanied by social supports, drug and alcohol services, and mental health supports.
‘These need to aim at prevention wherever possible, as well as support and treat emerging or pre-existing issues.
‘The Victorian Branch continues to support frontline health workers and offer our support and expertise to the organisations currently involved in supporting these vulnerable members of our community, at this particularly trying time for them.'
If you need help right now, it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anywhere in Australia.
In an emergency, dial 000
Lifeline 24-hour crisis – 131 114
Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800
Beyond Blue – 1800 512 348
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.