Devastation has swept Australia. Communities and individuals affected by the bushfires can experience a range of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that can be intense, confusing and frightening.
Rebuilding can be a long process, with a series of ups and downs. It is important that you look after yourself, family, neighbours and friends during the current bushfire emergency and access mental health and counselling services if required.
The following people may be particularly vulnerable and should not hesitate to seek help when it is practical to do so:
- Have a pre-existing mental illness
- Have a history of trauma
- Experiencing a recent bereavement
Dealing with the emotional impact of a bushfire
- spend time with people who care
- give yourself time
- find out about the impact of trauma and what to expect
- try to keep a routine going
- talk about how you feel about what happened when you are ready
- do things that help you relax
- set realistic goals that keep you motivated, but don't take on too much (most people in this situation talk of recovery as a journey not a sprint)
- review and reward progress – notice even the small steps
- be prepared for times when you feel you are making no progress, everyone experiences this
- talk about the ups and downs of recovery with friends, family and the health professionals involved in your care
- have a plan to maintain positive changes and plans to deal with times of stress or reminders of the trauma.
The Australian Government reaction to the bushfire crisis
The Australian Government has released a statement saying that they will put forward $76 million of Government funding to provide distress counselling and mental health support for individuals, families and communities affected by the bushfire crisis.
A mental health package is also available for immediate, short term and medium term mental health support for individuals, families and communities, including emergency services personnel, impacted by the ongoing bushfire crisis.
Australian Government mental health response to bushfire trauma
Information for Australians who have been affected by bushfires
Mental health support for Australians affected by the 2019–20 bushfires
If you are experiencing heightened stress, anxiety and depression or just need someone to talk to during this harrowing time; let us help you. At The Hills Clinic we can assist by providing a variety of mental health interventions such as psychological first aid, crisis counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy to help you on your road to recovery.
If you or someone you know requires mental health assistance, call us on 1300 122 144. Remember to stay safe and look after your mental health during the bushfire emergency.