With Victoria in its sixth COVID-19 lockdown, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has expressed deep concern for the mental health and wellbeing of our state’s youth.
Chair of the RANZCP Victorian Branch, Dr Astha Tomar, has reiterated the call for more to be done to support child and adolescent mental health as reports emerge of recent data on the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
‘We’ve been worried for a while now about the continuous increase in mental health service demand and presentations in young people.
‘It’s been a consistent problem over the years that has since been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s multiple lockdowns.
‘The increase in children and adolescents seeking support is just the beginning of what we are sure will continue to rise long after the worst of the pandemic is over.’
Dr Liam O’Connor, Chair of the RANZCP Victorian Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Subcommittee, added that the distress felt by youth is being compounded by the constant interruptions of their daily routine and isolation from friends.
‘With schooling being interrupted, lack of face-to-face contact with friends and teachers and limitations on permissible physical activity, it’s natural for children and adolescents to be struggling’, said Dr O’Connor.
‘We encourage parents to speak openly with their children about how they’re feeling and validate those emotions.
‘Most youth are very resilient, but some will be struggling, and parents should be on the look out for signs of heightened anxiety or mental distress.
‘If you do notice that your child isn’t coping well, do not hesitate to seek professional mental health support.’
The RANZCP Victorian Branch urges all Victorians to take care of their mental health during this time and to reach out to the mental health support services available if you are experiencing increased mental distress.
For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
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