Date published: 
4 June 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

SARAH HARRIS:   

Look, I'm sure a lot of Victorians have that all-too-familiar sinking feeling. The mental well-being of Victorians is undergoing a fourth lockdown in 14 months, and it is a growing concern.

TRISTAN MACMANUS:  

Yes, it most definitely is. Dr Ruth Vine, Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, she joins us now from Melbourne. Hello Dr, thank you very much.

RUTH VINE:

Thank you and good morning. And I hope none of us have a sinking feeling quite as big as that sinkhole.

SARAH HARRIS:   

Yeah, that's right, doctor. Thank you for joining us from lockdown. What are your main concerns for Victorians this time round? Not your first rodeo when it comes to lockdowns, but they're getting harder to take?

RUTH VINE:

In a way, they're getting harder to take. I think we've also learned a lot last year. I'm a Melbournian, so I lived through last year's as well as now. And I think we did learn the importance of social connection, the importance of structuring our day, the importance of thinking what we could do, achievable goals, and really reaching out to help ourselves and help others. And I think we also learned when we do need to reach out, what avenues were available, and of course they're still available. So the additional capacity in services like Beyond Blue, ReachOut, or Kids Helpline, the Head to Health website. And in Victoria, we have those HeadtoHelp [audio skips] that do provide easy to access, free psychological support, and they've been well used. But I guess the other really important thing is to keep yourself informed. And now what's different is that vaccinations are around and those who are eligible should be getting out there and getting vaccinated. I can say I had mine on Friday. So I'm feeling- my halo is gleaming.

TRISTAN MACMANUS:  

Well done, Dr. It seems like it's been going on forever as well. Are you already seeing, I suppose, a major escalation of people seeking mental health- sorry, seeking help for their mental health issues?

RUTH VINE:

Look, there has been an increase. I think it's also fair to say that the increase that we noticed last year, it diminished a little bit, but really, that increased demand has been pretty sustained, particularly in some groups, probably particularly younger people, and particularly those who are in difficult family circumstances. But there has been an increase over the last week and we'll keep a very close eye on that over this coming week as well. I hope that it's just one more week.

TRISTAN MACMANUS:  

For sure.

REPORTER:

This is a difficult question. [Indistinct] will be here from our Melbourne studio, Dr. Where do you find the line between saving lives and protecting us from COVID, but also saving lives of people from what's happening as a result of COVID, be that mental health issues or people not being able to access regular cancer checks and that kind of thing?

RUTH VINE:

Yeah look, that's a really important point. I think we did notice in the more prolonged lockdown last year that people did delay looking for help for particular physical ailments. I think we also learned, and you just had this on your news segment, just how important economic support is and that is a really important factor during the longer lockdown last year. I think [audio skips]. We do have a vaccination, we do have much, much better and more organised contact tracing in Victoria. So I think we can be reasonably optimistic that this one is got on top of. But let's all keep ourselves informed. Let's make sure we have that balance between seeking help for physical illnesses and physical checks alongside our emotional well-being as well.

TRISTAN MACMANUS:  

Great. Dr, what would your advice be for those struggling, and at the same time, for those trying to comfort loved ones who are struggling?

RUTH VINE:

Look, my advice really is do reach out and do let people talk. Give people the time to be able to discuss what they're going through or what their concerns are, or what their fears might be, and then do tell people where the help is that's available, where those help lines are or where the Head to Health platform is. I do think there's a lot out there. We've increased the better access sessions. I already mentioned the HeadtoHelp clinics, and of course general practitioners are always a good go to for people who are really struggling. But that sort of social connectedness, that social communication for yourself and reaching out to help others.

SARAH HARRIS:   

Dr Ruth Vine, thank you so much for your time this morning.

RUTH VINE:

Thank you.

SARAH HARRIS:   

And remember, if you do need help, Lifeline is available 24 hours a day. That number is 13-11-14 for help at any time.

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