The bushfires that are impacting on our communities are a distressing time for many people. If you have been affected by the bushfires, it is important to look after yourself, family, neighbours and friends. It is also important to access mental health and counselling services if required.
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) provides some general advice on looking after yourself if you are affected by the disaster (this also applies to carers and support people):
- Recognise that you have been through a distressing experience and allow yourself to experience some reaction to it. It’s OK to be upset.
- Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
- Remind yourself that you can and are coping.
- Share your experiences with people you trust, but don’t feel pressured if you don’t want to talk now – this is also OK.
- Try to maintain a routine, keep busy and structure your day.
- Allow yourself time to rest if you are feeling tired. Regular exercise is also helpful.
- Make time to relax. You can engage in relaxing activities or use techniques such as breathing or mindfulness exercises.
- Ask for support from people who care about you and whom you trust. Social support is very helpful in times like this.
- Let your friends and family know of your needs, especially when you are tired, want a chance to talk, or just to be with someone.
- Give yourself time to adjust and be kind to yourself.
If you are concerned about your mental health or mental health of a loved one, please speak to your General Practitioner or regular health care provider. You may also contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. There are also emergency and disaster assistance services available:
- NSW Disaster Welfare Assistance Line: 1800 018 444
- VIC Emergency Recovery Information Line: 1300 799 232
- Australian Government Emergency Information Line: 180 22 66