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    Grampians Community Health CEO Greg Little.

Mental health focus in fire crisis


Community health groups and organisations have urged people to remain conscious of their own and other’s mental health during the bushfire season.

With fires in the state’s east and New South Wales causing widespread loss and devastation, health services have put out the call for people to check in with themselves and their loved ones who could be struggling.

Grampians Community Health chief executive Greg Little said national news coverage and recent hazy conditions across the region could become a trigger for anxiety, stress and fear.

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He said this was particularly true in a region which had been known to experience significant fire threats in the past.

“It doesn’t seem that long ago since we had bushfires – with the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, Grampians bushfires in 2006 and Roses Gap bushfires in 2014,” he said.

“We have a long history with bushfires, and for a lot of people it might be bringing back memories or creating some fear, especially when we look outside our windows and see smoke in the backyard and are aware of what is happening elsewhere.

“So, feelings of being anxious, stressed or short-tempered with partners or others will probably have a lot to do with that.”

Mr Little said it was important, particularly for people who had or were currently experiencing the effects of bushfire and parents of young children, to be aware of their support options during a crisis.

He said this included counselling services and general practitioners, as well as organisations such as Beyond Blue.

The national not-for-profit service has developed new online information about mental health and bushfires in relation to the bushfire crisis.

Beyond Blue chief executive Georgie Harman said this included practical advice about dealing with the emotional impact of bushfire, information about the signs and symptoms of emotional distress, tips for supporting children and young people, and links to useful resources.

Mr Little said he wished to remind people that is was okay to need help.

“As Australians we’re always very good at saying ‘oh, I’m alright’,” he said.

“We’re also very good at putting other people before ourselves. 

“So, while you should keep an eye out for your family and friends, also keep an eye out for yourself.

“And for anyone who might have been in the fires elsewhere and have returned or for people who are feeling anxious, come and see the support services of organisations in the area.

“We’re all in this together.”

Mr Little said people experiencing a significant mental-health issue should contact their general practitioner. 

The entire January 15, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!