Since 1988, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) has released a Social Justice Statement each year to highlight a particular societal issue. This year the Social Justice Statement is titled, To Live Life to the Full: Mental Health in Australia Today.
Anxiety is the most common mental health issue experienced by Stacey Joyce’s clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a VMCH psychologist, Stacey supports people with complex disabilities living in supported housing. She says all her clients have lost access to work and social programs through COVID-19 and are missing face-to-face contact with their friends and families. Despite this, they’re coping “incredibly well” with staff across houses working hard to make their days more fun and interesting and connecting them virtually with loved ones.
Below are Stacey’s anxiety behaviours to watch for and tips for helping her clients feel safe and anxiety-free (which could help anyone experiencing anxiety.)
Anxiety looks different for everyone, but can look like:
- anger or irritability
- over protection of personal belongings or space
- rejection of people we usually trust
- not doing things we usually enjoy doing
- repeatedly doing or saying the same thing over and over
- forgetting things or not being able to focus
- eating much more or much less
- sleeping much more or much less.
Our clients are being supported to feel safe by:
- regular check-ins to talk about how they are feeling
- being supported to do the things that interest them and make them feel good
- connecting with people who make them feel good. Zoom has been an amazing tool
- encouraging clients to move their bodies every day, in fresh air if possible.
- making social stories, video and picture guides to help clients understand changes (such as face masks) and feel safe
- favourite movies and music can make clients feel happy and safe
- doing yoga, deep breathing or relaxation videos can calm the body
- TeleHealth is a great way for clients to staff connected with their therapists, which makes them feel safe
- consider watching less news
- focus on what clients can control – such as washing their hands and socially distancing.