Maintaining mental health during a pandemic

Whether you’re working from home or from your office, there's no doubt that your life has been impacted by COVID-19.

Caucasian grandmother videochatting with granddaughter on digital tablet.

From health care practitioners, to social workers, our NSW public servants are working hard, despite the current COVID-19 crisis, to ensure that our NSW community continues to receive the services and security we all depend on.

To support them, our Risk Education eXpress (REX) online learning platform is creating a raft of new best practice resources on topics including mental health and working from home.

Below you’ll find a guide, recently created by the REX team with input from Jill Newby, Associate Professor, UNSW based at the Black Dog Institute, on how we can all stay mentally healthy during this time. 

Staying mentally healthy during COVID-19

Stress, anxiety, loneliness, financial pressure, infection fears and stigma are the most common issues that people are feeling.

It's natural to feel some worry, times have changed very quickly. However, when worry begins to impact your overall mental health and wellbeing, it is time to proactively take steps to manage your mental health.

Speaking about the issue, Jill Newby, Associate Professor, UNSW based at the Black Dog Institute, said:

"We often feel anxious when events feel out of our control, and when we think we don’t have the capacity, skills or ability to cope. Anxiety tricks us into thinking about the worst-case scenarios in vivid and frightening detail. Instead of worrying, try your best to focus on what’s under your control."

"Equip yourself with the facts about COVID-19 from trusted sources. Follow government advice and make a plan about what you and your family will do if you need to be in isolation, or quarantine."

Tips for staying mentally healthy

We are living in unusual times, but as with other past pandemics and worldwide crises, this will pass, and life will resume again. In the meantime, there are many things we can do to protect our mental health. Summing up her top tips for mental fitness during COVID-19, Associate Professor Newby said:

  • Stay focused on the here and now, taking each day step by step.
  • Look after your body: get enough sleep, exercise, eat well, avoid smoking, excessive alcohol and drugs. These will help protect your mental health and immune system.
  • Stay connected with others, so you're not socially isolated or lonely. It can make a huge difference when we share our worries with others, and connect with other people who are supportive.
  • Help other people, be kind, and compassionate: when we help others, it helps us feel better.

A bit of extra support

If you find that you need a bit of extra support during this pandemic, make sure that you reach out and talk to someone about it.

As research has proven time and time again, often early intervention is effective in stopping small mental health issues developing into bigger mental health crises. Below, we've compiled a list of professional resources dedicated to mental health, online, via an app, or on your phone.




Other support

Medicare has also introduced telehealth mental health services to ensure people who need extra support can access it via video conference or over the phone.

It is available until 30 September 2020, participating practitioners can offer telehealth support for eligible people, instead of the usual face-to-face consultations normally available under Medicare.