Vic lockdown prompts mental health concern

·3-min read

The return of a strict lockdown to Victoria has prompted concerns for the mental health of those who have already struggled through lengthy restrictions in 2020.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced a five-day "circuit breaker" lockdown on Friday afternoon to take effect from 11:59pm in response to the growing Holiday Inn coronavirus outbreak.

Mental Health organisation BeyondBlue said feelings of anxiety were a normal response to uncertainty and stress, and pointed Victorians to the organisation's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service, accessible on its website.

"News of further restrictions in Victoria will be distressing for many people given what they experienced last year," Beyond Blue lead clinical advisor Dr Grant Blashki said on Friday.

"But let's remember, we've done this before, so we know what to do this time around. We have already established new routines and ways to cope so in some ways, we're going into this with more clarity."

The Australian Red Cross offered basic tips to cope with the return of restrictions.

"What is it that you can do to feel in control?" Victorian director Sue Cunningham said.

"It's a time to think about things you enjoy doing, whether it's putting together a Lego set with your kids, reading a novel you've been waiting to read or cooking a meal you've always wanted to eat.

"This is not a time to boost your productivity and begin major personal projects that are on your to-do list. Be kind to yourself, and to others.

"If you are feeling isolated and vulnerable, it is important you reach out and talk to someone about it, as those feelings can escalate quickly."

Lifeline Australia said it was hard to know if it would receive would be more calls from Victorians over coming days, but was anticipating many who had hoped lockdowns were over would be upset.

Chairman John Brogden said the mental health phone service saw a huge up-tick in calls in the first five days of 2021 because peoples' holiday plans were being ruined.

Lifeline had also received an unprecedented number of calls over the past 12 months, he said.

"We encourage people to reach out. It's OK not to be OK at times like this," he told AAP.

"As human beings we really crave two things, human contact and certainty and they're the two things that get taken away from us during lockdowns."

Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Tania Farha said her message to the community was brief but vital.

"People experiencing family violence can still leave home even during a lockdown," she told AAP.

"It's absolutely lawful during restrictions."

Mr Andrews acknowledged the return to lockdown could pose mental health challenges to some.

"We're all committed to making sure that everybody who needs support, whether it's experiencing mental illness, anxiety, depression, whatever it might be for the very first time, or these challenges making an underlying condition worse - we are there for every single one of those people, carers and their families," he said.

beyondblue 1300 22 4636 or coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Lifeline 13 11 14