Supporting others and their mental health and wellbeing
Supporting family, friends and others in your community can mean so much. It can make a world of difference for someone you know or care about. You can provide support to someone by noticing behaviour changes, creating opening lines of communication, or even providing practical help.
Supporting someone with poor mental health or a mental health condition can be humbling and rewarding but it can also be physically and mentally challenging. If you’re supporting someone else, don’t forget to look after your mental health and wellbeing too.
The type of support needed will depend on the person your helping:
It can be difficult for children to understand the changes and uncertainty they are experiencing due to COVID-19. This can make them more vulnerable to feelings of stress, anxiety and sadness. As a parent or carer, there are ways you can support children through these challenging times.
Talk clearly and calmly with them about what is happening, using age-appropriate language.
Listen to any questions they have and let them know they are safe and that it’s normal to feel concerned.
Respond in supportive, gentle and reassuring ways, by listening to concerns and giving extra love and attention.
Help create some structure in their daily routine (even if this is different from their usual). This could include learning, playing and relaxing. Where possible, maintain schoolwork, study, and routine activities.
Limit how much time they spend accessing distressing news, social media or images.
Use video technology to help them maintain social connection with their friends and family members.
Lead by example. Work on managing your own stress through healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating healthily, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Adults who are prepared, rested and relaxed respond better to unexpected events and can make decisions in the best interests of those they care for.
Children’s reactions and emotions are influenced by how they see adults around them behaving and reacting. When parents and caregivers deal with traumatic events calmly and confidently, children are better supported.
For information and support on how to talk to children during the COVID-19 pandemic:
My Hero is You, Storybook for Children on COVID-19 With the help of Ario, you can help explain to children how they can protect themselves, their families and their friends from COVID-19. The story also looks at how to manage difficult emotions. This picture book has been translated into 23 different languages.
Birdie and the virus - storybook series developed by Children’s Health Queensland through the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health.
Supporting older people
In times like these, it’s important to stay in contact with older relatives, friends, neighbours and others in our community. Help create a community of care, by looking out for seniors not only in your life, but also those who live around you.
Here are some practical things you can do:
If you are a family member or caregiver, talk about COVID-19 and provide updates on what is happening in the news. Being open and honest will help provide clarity and reassurance during a confusing and difficult time.
Physical distancing and isolation can be distressing for some people, particularly if they live alone. Acknowledge their feelings and talk about what is worrying them. By talking things through, you may be able to come up with some solutions to help.
Keep in regular contact. A phone call might be the most suitable form of communication, but you can also try video chat so that you’re able to see each other.
Offering practical support can make a real difference and help alleviate stress and anxiety. Check they have enough supplies and offer to pick up any shopping on their behalf. Knowing they have access to their medications and a nourishing meal to eat can help ease worries and concerns.
For information and resources on how to support older people during the COVID-19 pandemic, take a look at the following resources:
Neighbour Day: Connection and Calling Cards – Introduce yourself or connect with neighbours in your community using Connection & Calling Cards (a friendly message, your name and address) as an icebreaker. By dropping one of these cards in a neighbour’s letterbox, older residents are able to reach out if they require support. It’s a great way to give back and ensure that our most vulnerable are looked after during this time.