Date published: 
10 September 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

But with all that, the question still remains; whether we are feeling okay? It just seems like almost a ridiculous thing to discuss is R U OK Day. A day that's really needed or actually, is it superfluous to requirements at a time like this? Dr Ruth Vine, joins you now, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health and Victoria's former chief psychiatrist. Dr Ruth Vine, good morning.

RUTH VINE:

Good morning, Virginia.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Are you okay?

RUTH VINE:

Yes, look, I am okay and I think it is - you just raised the question, is it superfluous? I think it's always- it is always helpful to raise awareness and give people perhaps new tools, new ways of thinking about how they go about reaching out for others. So, I quite like this year's tag to the, R U OK Okay? which is there's more to say and I think it's that reminder that just asking someone if they're okay. That's not the end of the deal, the point of it is to be able to listen and to be able to think about how you might support and think what else might be needed. So, there's more than just the R U OK?

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

[Talks over] Well, exactly. I know that for R U OK Day, there's really good information and advice now, which is, what's the next part of the conversation…

RUTH VINE:

Yeah, that's right, yes.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

…if someone answers, no I'm not? What is the next part of the conversation, Ruth?

RUTH VINE:

Well, as I said, the first part is to make sure that when you ask that question, you're ready for that answer and ready to explore it a bit. And to think- to give the person, if you like, a safe and an encouraging place to explore their own feelings. Because what's next might be relatively simple; it might be let's go and do something together, it might be, well let me let me help you address that particular need or it might be very complicated. And it might well need calling in those with more professional skills in this area or thinking more broadly. As you just highlighted, Virginia, these are not simple matters. They're often multilayered, they're not just today, they may well have been coming on for some time. So, I think the important thing is it is a degree of preparedness, if you like, for that answer and thinking how you'll give the person time. Not to expect too much of yourself, but give the person time and be prepared to do some problem solving with them.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

These sentiments are really tricky though aren't they, Ruth Vine? People don't want to hear the so-called, as they describe it, negative views, which are the views of people who have a criticism to make is this or that aspects of state government policy, this or that aspects of the of the lockdown. It's always been the job of the person who sits there to hear a plethora of views and test them. But, those who don't want to hear the negativity will feel very personally aggrieved and I fear will fear increasingly sad or bad about this situation. How do you navigate that?

RUTH VINE:

One thing of course is not to not to be completely mired in that negativity. So, you could spend the day sitting inside listening to radio or social media or you could keep reinforcing that negativity or you could challenge it by taking time away from that and really concentrating on trying to look at different perspectives or different points of view. I mean, I absolutely agree that when a person is in the throes of a significant illness, like depression, it is almost impossible to get away from that negativity and that's really when you need professional help and indeed treatment. But for many of us, we're not quite at that level and you can use the use the world around you and other aspects of life around you. Even within the confines of what we're allowed to do now and not allowed to do, there are things that can get you out and show you that there are things happening, there is a future, that there is a degree of hope and that we are progressing through this.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

As Victoria's former chief psychiatrist, do you have a view on whether the lockdown on at the moment is too much or manageable for people?

RUTH VINE:

Look, I think that what we've seen throughout this has been considered advice from health practitioners and particularly, public health practitioners and governments more or less following that advice. And I, you know, I was a bit deflated on Sunday, when I learnt that we had as long as we've got in Victoria - and I live in Melbourne - to see this through. But I thought - okay, if that's what's got to happen, let's deal with it, let's readjust and replan the coming weeks and months. So, I can only put my trust in people who are giving this considered thought and who are looking at the evidence and looking around the world and who know a lot more about it than I do.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

So, for that follow up conversation; to be prepared for whatever answer you might get, to the question R U OK? Where can people go to get those resources and be fully prepared to continuing that conversation?

RUTH VINE:

So, look, there are a number of places to go. I mean, I think as you pointed out there's there is actually quite a lot on the R U OK? website. But Head to Health is a very useful platform; Beyondblue has a number of resources. For health professionals, there are now some particular places The Essential Network, which is produced by Black Dog. So there are a whole raft of places, but probably Head to Health is a good starting spot.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

And just while I've got you and it's an interesting question - it's been posed on text and I agree, it should be asked as well. Do you have a view, again, as a leading psychiatrist and medical officer and also a former chief psychiatrist - do you ever view on about extending telehealth items for psychologists and mental health providers? They've been very useful during the lockdown, should they be extended beyond that?

RUTH VINE:

Yeah, look, I think the shift that we made - that practitioners made - was terrific. We really did years of reform in a matter of weeks or months and I think you're right. Many people have found considerable advantage in that. I think the nuance that is still to be determined is what should the balance be between telehealth and face to face? And how can we make sure that those who want face to face or who can only feel safe in that environment, can still access it? So, I know that this is being reviewed. I know the end of September is coming close. I feel optimistic that it will be continued, but I do think it's not just a black or white, should it continue. I think we need to look at how it should continue and what sort of expectations should be around it.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Has the resilience of this community surprised you? Because it is a marvellously resilient community. People do manage to find the positivity. I've been talking about you know the great changes that businesses have been making, in order to keep surviving. That dreadful word, pivot; but they have pivoted to new business models in a really optimistic way. Has that surprised you?

RUTH VINE:

Yes. Look, many things have surprised me in the last hour in the last weeks and months. And you're right, there has been considerable resilience in many areas and both younger people and older people. I think that always needs to be tempered with looking out for people who do need a bit extra help. And you touched on cafes and restaurants and the need for perhaps support for small business owners, as well as particular supports for employees and people returning to their workplaces. So, yes, resilience I think is terrific but, it doesn't mean we don't think how else can we help people.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Good to talk to you this morning, Ruth Vine, thank you.

RUTH VINE:

And you. Thanks again.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Dr Ruth Vine is the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health.

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