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MENTAL HEALTH IN THE MEDIA SEPTEMBER 2020

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Social media have added a whole new layer of isolation To which might be added broader technological and economic disruption, the rise of the gig economy, workforce casualisation and falling marriage and participation rates in unions, churches and clubs.

By 2019 single person households without kids had become the most common kind in Sweden, accounting for 40% of homes, similar to Denmark and Germany, and growing rapidly in Japan.

For Hertz, isolation and alienation have fuelled polarisation and extremism, not to mention the stridency of current debate.

Lockdowns, by definition, are one vast, fast and largely improvised experiment in mass isolation Researchers have found loneliness triggers the same neural pathways as hunger. As soon as the lockdown began, German helplines were reporting callers were more scared of isolation than of COVID. By late April loneliness was the most commonly reported COVID related personal stress in Australia.

A 6 month survey of more than 2500 Australians by Swinburne University launched in April found half of the respondents feeling lonelier since COVID19. Those who were lonely reported higher rates of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and stress. The single most protective factor against loneliness and its associated mental health concerns was living with family.

Prof Ian Hickey, Sydney University says loneliness is an unintended consequence of affluence, good health, and long lives, observable in developed countries. There is no mutual responsibility to take care of each other within family groups.

A link between loneliness and self-harm has been confirmed by more than 100 studies. Another study found that loneliness not only increases the risk of dying prematurely but has a risk equals to or exceeded by obesity, drinking 6 alcoholic drinks or smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

The Productivity Commission report on mental health was handed to the government on 30/6. A draft report, issued last October said mental ill health and suicide were costing Australia up to $180 billion pa, with a 70% increase in mental health presentations at hospital emergency departments over the past 15 years.

PARENTS WARNED ON SUICIDE VIDEO  The Age  9/9

Australian parents have been advised to supervise their children’s social media use as a graphic suicide video from the US was shared widely online.

E Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said she was aware of “distressing reports” about the video circulating on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Many school principals sent emails to parents yesterday suggesting they monitor their children’s social media use or keep students offline for a few days until websites removed the content.

SURGE IN TEENS’ MENTAL HEALTH CALLS  The Age 11/9

Calls to mental health support services from children and young people in Victoria have increased by up to a third.

There was a 28% spike in calls to the phone counselling service Kids Helpline between March and July 2020 compared with the same period last year, and 19% from July August compared with the previous month.

The increase in demand has prompted the state government to fast-track a $50 million initiative providing every state secondary school with its own mental health support practitioner by the end of next year.

A report by the state’s Commission of Children and Young People has shown that other services have become less accessible and that young people prefer face-to-face support services. The report surveyed more than 600 young people and 170 support workers and showed the dramatic impact on youth mental health.

BREAKING THE SILENCE ON DEPRESSION  The Age 16/9

According to research undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies,  25% of men will be diagnosed with a mental health condition over the course of their lives.

In any year, 15% of men will experience a mental health issue, most commonly anxiety or depression, and three quarters of Australians who die by suicide are men. The first instalment of a long-term study, Ten to Men, found only one quarter of men experiencing mental ill-health would seek the support of a professional. It found loneliness was a contributor to depression and thoughts of suicide.

CONTROL THE KEY IN HIDDEN THREAT  The Age 17/9

According to domestic violence experts, COVID-19 and resultant disruptions have already caused an escalation in abuse – in all forms – against women.

A recently released survey by YouGov for the Commonwealth Bank found 26% of Australians say they have experienced some form of financial abuse. Women are disproportionately affected with earlier research finding 15.7% of women and 7.1% of men have experienced economic advice in their lifetimes.

Women may be more prone to financial abuse due to lower levels of financial literacy.

MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS WAIT FOR BEDS  Sunday Age 20/9

Victorians with severe mental illness are spending days in emergency departments waiting for a bed as doctors warn rising numbers of mental health cases are surpassing every other hospital presentation.

Emergency physicians have also observed a troubling spike in drug use and seelf harm incidents.

High rates of COVID-19 have also shut down beds.

Police are attending mental health incidents every 10 minutes in Victoria.

A state government spokeswoman said almost $200 million had been invested in mental health support in response to the pandemic. Reforms recommended by the mental health royal commission had also been fast-tracked.

SURGE IN MENTAL HEALTH AID FOR KIDS  The Age 21/9

Psychologists are seeing a “huge increase” in children being moved on to mental health plans to deal with the stresses of lockdown and remote schooling.

Families and schools say they are increasingly addressing children’s mental health issues amid stage four restrictions, while some parents are pushing to get all students back to classrooms to repair the damage of lockdown.

Calls to the Kids Helpline have been rising in Victoria, while a UNICEF national survey of 1000 teenagers found students in Melbourne felt the least able to cope during the pandemic.

The state government announced last week that it would spend an additional $28.5 million to bolster mental health programs in primary, secondary and specialist schools, and fast-track initiatives that would be rolled out over coming months.

PANDEMIC TAKING TOLL ON WOMEN’S MENTAL HEALTH  The Age 22/9

Victorian women are seeking mental health support at record levels as the coronavirus and pandemic drives up stress, anxiety and depression among those bearing the brunt of caring responsibilities.

The professor of psychiatry at Monash University said the clinic was also treating a growing number of patients with self-harm injuries and an increasing cohort of women who had not experienced mental health issues before the pandemic.

The Sunday Age revealed Victorians with severe mental illness are spending days in emergency departments waiting for a bed as doctors warn such cases are surpassing every other hospital presentation.

Beyond Blue chief executive Georgie Harman said women comprised about two thirds of callers to the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service.

Similar imcreased demand was reported by Tandem, Lifeline, Victoria’s Mental Illness Awareness Council, and Victoria Police.

VIOLENCE AT HOME SPIKES IN LOCKDOWN The Age 25/9

ictoria’s lockdown has contributed to the highest rates of family violence in the state’s history.

Victoria’s Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent, speaking about the release of the state’s latest annual crime statistics, said the stay-at-home restrictions had contributed to the increase, which included notable rises in first-time-victims and perpetrators of family violence.

The data showed reports of abuse in the home rose 6.7%, with more than 88,000 family violence offences reported to police. The figures included an increase in incidents where children were involved, both as perpetrators and victims.

Compiled by Lionel Parrott for Mental health Ministries


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