COVID-19 updateACT Mental Health Sector - 19 May 2020

In this edition we feature a broad selection of articles and webinars about mental health impacts of the pandemic and physical distancing and also the projected mental health impacts in the longer term. Professors Ian Hickie and Pat McGorry describe a "best case scenario" of a 25% rise in suicides, but predict it will be far worse. Meanwhile a UNSW team will lead research into the long term mental health impacts across Australia, US and UK.    In news from the past fortnight we re-visit the ACT COVID-19 mental health support package and share the National Mental Health Pandemic Response Plan, as well as bring you commentary on the appointment of Australia's first Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, Dr Ruth Vine. In other news Black Dog Institute have developed a new e-mental health hub app, and MIEACT is offering free workplace mental health workshops. Update from MHCC ACT Just as the transition into crisis mode is starting to settle down, the ACT Government is now starting to relax restrictions again. There are good news, such as some libraries re-opening, but there is not yet a call for us all to go back to work or to transition back to face-to-face service delivery.

  • MHCC ACT has started a new Community of Practice for workers to share experiences and learnings about working in the new remote environment. The first meeting went well and this CoP will happen weekly on Zoom. Anyone is welcome to join and to dip in and out of attendance as works for you.

  • MHCC ACT has also meeting with our Sector Leaders group and last week Karen Grace (Executive Director, MHJHADS) gave us a useful update. The group will now be meeting fortnightly. The advice and intelligence we've had from this group has been vital!

  • We are now beginning to shift our advocacy messaging towards the long term impacts to be managed. Even though restrictions are being relaxed, the mental health impacts are only beginning in some parts of the population.

  • Finally, we've promised you progress on access to PPE and information about use of PPE for some time. While this seems to have run into ever more hurdles, we've now seen information being finalised for a website, so there is hope yet.        

Reliable sources At the bottom of the newsletter is a section with links to reliable sources of information, tools, checklists and other resources. We urge you all to take good care and maintain healthy social connection with physical distancing.

During this period MHCC ACT staff will be mostly working from home. The best way to contact us is via email (admin@mhccact.org.au).


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