Now more than ever it’s important that we maintain our own well-being. Much is being asked of us as legal educators. Our students are needing our support and we need to have capacity to be responsive to them – not only in terms of their learning as we move to online approaches, but also just generally. We are having to be adaptive and agile in adopting new ways of being legal academics.
Beyond Blue, whose vision is for everyone in Australia to achieve their best possible mental health – especially in these difficult times – has excellent information and resources on their website: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/. They have also put together some great well-being advice on their Blog – specifically about managing in the current crisis – which we reproduce in an adapted form below: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak
Try to maintain perspective: While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.
Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage: Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. While it’s important to stay informed, you may find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you or your family.
Access good quality information: It’s important to get accurate information from credible sources such as those listed below. This will also help you maintain perspective and feel more in control.
- Australian Government coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert
- Health Direct – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Health Direct have also developed a COVID-19 Symptom Checker – an online, self-guided tool to help people find out if they need to seek medical help. You can access this tool by clicking on the button below.
- World Health Organization – coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
Try to maintain a practical and calm approach: Widespread panic can complicate efforts to manage the outbreak effectively. Do your best to stay calm and follow official advice, particularly around observing good hygiene habits. The Australian Psychological Society has advice about maintaining positive mental health during the outbreak.
Try not to make assumptions: To contribute to a sense of community wellbeing, try to remember that the coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of their nationality or ethnicity and remember that those with the disease have not done anything wrong.
Managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine: There are a number of ways to support your mental health during periods of self-isolation or quarantine.
- Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
- Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus.
- Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
- Connect with others via the Beyond Blue forums thread: Coping during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
- Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
- Try to maintain physical activity.
- Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.
- For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work-space.
- Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.
Support for those experiencing financial hardship: As the ongoing spread of the coronavirus continues to affect the global economy, many people in Australia are losing jobs, livelihoods and financial stability. For information and services provided by the Australian government, please visit Services Australia. If you are experiencing financial hardship, National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling.
Seek support: It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed by news of the outbreak. We encourage people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to:
- activate your support network
- acknowledge feelings of distress
- seek professional support early if you’re having difficulties.
For those already managing mental health issues, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms.
The Beyond Blue Support Service also offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.