Mental health support for bush-fire affected residents

Mental health support for bush-fire affected residents

Natural disasters and extreme weather events can have a big impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of those affected, but help is available.

North Coast Primary Health Network and Northern NSW Local Health District are encouraging anyone affected by the recent bushfires to seek mental health support and to look out for their loved ones.

Northern NSW residents can access free Healthy Minds counselling through Connect to Wellbeing, on 1300 160 339 between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

“Feeling distressed or overwhelmed is normal following a natural disaster, but there are services available to help you cope, and things you can do to make recovery easier,” Rural Adversity Mental Health Program Coordinator, Steve Carrigg said.

“We encourage people to reach out for the support on offer, and take these simple steps to look after their mental health.”

  1. Spend time with family and friends
  2. Try to get back into a routine as soon as possible, but don’t push yourself too hard.
  3. Take time out, but don’t isolate yourself
  4. Accept help and support when it is offered.

North Coast Primary Health Network CEO Julie Sturgess said the stress of experiencing a bushfire can leave people at a higher risk of developing depression or anxiety, even if they are not directly dealing with loss of property and/or possessions.

“Free face-to-face counselling with a mental health practitioner, such as a psychologist or mental health social worker, will provide people with strategies and techniques to manage their mental health,” Ms Sturgess said.

If you require immediate support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. For children under 12 years, call the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

In an emergency, please call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

For more information on how you can prepare for emergencies, both physically and mentally, visit the Red Cross website.

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