Meeting community mental health needs during COVID-19 with telephone counselling
COVID-19, like any major life event, has the capacity to exacerbate mental health issues, particularly for people who are already feeling vulnerable and anxious.
St John of God community mental health’s Victoria manager, Shelley Gibb, says that although COVID-19 means Australians are having to stay at home and socially isolate as much as possible, telephone counselling has allowed the service to continue to provide free counselling, which is vital to continuity of care.
“We’ve been able to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 and the requirement to physically distance very quickly and a key part of that has been the move to offer telephone counselling,” Shelley said.
“There is a lot of misinformation circulating about COVID-19 at the moment and an important part of our role in managing clients’ anxiety is to provide professional advice and sources for accurate information.
“One of the protective factors we usually consider in a client’s emotional wellness is social networks.
“This is currently very challenging for people, so we’re offering advice on alternatives and helping clients to think outside the box.”
Shelley says clients are adapting well to telephone counselling and appreciate the continuity of support.
One such client is 58-year-old Jan Williams who has been accessing community mental health services in Warrnambool for approximately six years and accessing telephone counselling over the past three weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Telephone counselling has been great because it means I don’t have to travel and don’t have to leave home, which is where I feel safest,” Jan said.
“I’ve needed more access to my therapist recently and I’ve been able to have that over the phone - sometimes all I need is a ten minute conversation to make me feel better.”
St John of God community mental health services are committed to continuing to provide support to those who need it during these unprecedented times.
“We know our care and expertise is needed now, and for some, more than ever,” Shelley said.
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