By Minh Ly
In Melbourne, we have arguably seen the country’s toughest and most gruelling two-year period in Victorian history.
Beginning in March of 2020 with our first major Covid-19 lockdown, which was later followed by several more with many businesses facing bankruptcy, thousands losing their jobs and workplace arrangements evolving and transitioning from an office-based setting to working from home (WFH). With a different approach to work, the upside was having much more autonomy, however the fact that many people were isolated and disconnected from other people in a time of great uncertainty and stress has had many and varied negative mental health ramifications. With new waves and strains of Covid still possible it’s been difficult for us all to get closure on what has happened, let alone move forward.
Kate Li (MAPS and FCCLP) of Kate Li Psychology from the Flemington area has 8 years under her belt of practicing psychology and 6 years being a registered clinical Psychologist. She has worked in the employment services sector who now mostly specialises in anxiety and trauma related issues using techniques such as Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Kate works with a diverse cross section with many of her clients from the Maribyrnong and Brimbank regions ranging from the ages of 6 through to 70.
As Kate sits back on the office couch to start the interview, she takes a deep breath and sighs as she shares her concerns and insights and points out that the isolation has been responsible for the increase in separation anxiety amongst the younger age groups representing mostly children. Being under this type of distress, this young cohort are finding it difficult to cope when they are again allowed to leave their homes and venture into the outside world.
This all stemmed from having no opportunity to socialise and interact with their peers when the lockdowns were introduced by the government. Since the overwhelming demand for psychological and counselling services has spiked, Kate remarked that there has been up to a 12-month waiting period before the individual can engage in a Psychology session, placing further strain on the healthcare system.
David Xuerub, a psychologist who is situated in St Albans who focuses on youth, laments that there is a higher rate of referrals for treatment for anxiety and depression via a mental healthcare plan. He says that a high proportion of these are secondary students as they struggle with coming out of remote learning with lowered self-confidence and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
It’s a troubling time especially when you think of what happens to those in our community most psychologically vulnerable who cannot access vital mental health services.
For more information or resources, you can reach out to:
Your GP/Family Doctor
The Black Dog Institute
on 02 9382 4530
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
Headspace on 1800 650 890
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14
The internal school health services department if you are in an educational setting
Some of these organisations’ websites may have a webchat base communication system you can tap in, to engage with a counsellor or just simply contacting them by phone.