Looking after your wellbeing and mental health

27 March 2020

Additional resources have been developed for working from home. We encourage you to read them here: https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/looking-after-your-wellbeing-when-working-from-home.

 

This is an incredibly tough time for our community and our loved ones. Now more than ever, we need to show each other kindness, compassion and understanding. It's important that we are also kind to ourselves and practice self-care.  

There is a lot of media coverage and information around COVID-19 and it can create anxiety, uncertainty and confusion. It is natural to feel overwhelmed and it's important that we know the resources available to us to help manage our stress and prevent it turning into more severe anxiety or panic.   

The University's highest priority is the support and safety of our community, this includes our overall wellbeing including mental health support to help each other get through these challenges together.  

This page includes information on: 

Community Wellbeing Team 

We have created a dedicated team to support our community through COVID-19.  

The Community Wellbeing Team can give you on-the-ground support in response to current and emerging COVID-19 situations. The group provides customised, timely and agile support and care to all staff, students and visitors, including:  

  • Advice regarding the current public health measures in place including the need to attend a doctor or a testing clinic;  
  • Information on current travel restrictions and assistance with changing travel plans;  
  • Support to establish and maintain self-isolation (when required);  
  • Providing practical, logistical support for self-isolation to members of the community with limited outside support;  
  • Facilitating work or study from home arrangements (where possible); and  
  • Accessing assistance and support, and anything else that will aid our community wellbeing during this time. 

You can contact the team by email at CommunityWellbeing@anu.edu.au, by calling +61 2 6125 3346 (option 1) during business hours, or by calling ANU Security outside of business hours.  

For urgent or life-threatening situations, please continue to call 000 in the first instance, and then ANU Security on +612 6125 2249.  

Managing your wellbeing and alleviating anxieties 

Here are some simple strategies to help you alleviate anxiety and manage your wellbeing when dealing with this level of disruption and uncertainty. 

  • Learn the facts and seek information from reliable sources to avoid misinformation. Constant media coverage can keep you in a heightened state of anxiety - try to limit related media exposure and focus on factual information from reliable, trustworthy sources of information - like ACT Health and the Department of Health

  • Focus on thinking about others. For example, ask yourself "how can I help look after my community." Thinking about others is a helpful exercise in stimulating positive thinking. 

  • Take reasonable precautions. Being proactive can help manage how we feel about the current situation.  A great start is to be familiar with and follow the basic hygiene principles as recommended by local and international Health authorities.

  • Practice self-care.  Everybody practices self-care differently, but no matter what this looks like for you, it is important to look after yourself. This could include making time for activities and hobbies, communicating and keeping contact with family, friends and colleagues and keeping up a healthy lifestyle including being active, eating well and getting quality sleep. 

  • Practice strategies for managing stress. These include deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation. 

  • Practice mindfulness. Think about what it is you're doing while you're doing it. For example, when you're sitting down to eat lunch, notice the colours on the plate and how good the food smells before you start to eat, instead of thinking about what you need to do later. 

For more ideas, check out our article on self-care here and this great guide from the Australian Psychological Society which includes some great tips for talking with children about COVID19. 

Talking with children about the coronavirus

Children will inevitably pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others, whether this be through listening and observing what is happening at home or at school. It is important that they can speak to you about their own concerns. 
 
Answer their questions
 
Don't be afraid to talk about the coronavirus with children. Given the extensive media coverage and the increasing number of people wearing face masks in public, it is not surprising that some children are already aware of the virus. 
 
Providing opportunities to answer their questions in an honest and age-appropriate way can help reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing.  

You can do this by:  

  • speaking to them about coronavirus calmly 
  • asking them what they already know about the virus so you can clarify any misunderstandings they may have 
  • letting them know that it is normal to be worried when new and stressful situations arise 
  • giving them a sense of control by explaining what they can do to stay safe (e.g. wash their hands regularly, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing) 
  • not overwhelming them with unnecessary information (e.g. death rates) as this can increase their anxiety 
  • reassure them that coronavirus is less common and severe in children compared to adults 
  • allowing regular contact (e.g. by phone or Skype) with people they may worry about, such as grandparents, to reassure them that they are okay. 

Talk about how they are feeling 
 
Explain to your child that it is normal to feel worried about getting sick. Listen to your child's concerns and reassure them that you are there to help them with whatever may arise in the future. 
 
It is important to model calmness when discussing the coronavirus with children and not alarm them with any concerns you may have about it. Children will look to you for cues on how to manage their own worries so it is important to stay calm and manage your own anxieties before bringing up the subject with them and answering their questions. 
 
Limit media exposure 
 
It is important to monitor children's exposure to media reports about the coronavirus as frequent exposure can increase their level of fear and anxiety. Try to be with your child when they are watching, listening or reading the news so you are able to address any questions or concerns they may have. 
 
For further support and  advice contact the Employee Assistance Program (details below). 

Support Services available to you  

If you are feeling worried, anxious or need some support, please make use of the various services available to the ANU Community. 

Students 

You can access support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via ANU Crisis Support Line on 1300 050 327 or via SMS Text message service on 0488 884 170.     

Mental health support and assistance is also available through: 

You can access ANU Counselling Centre appointment via Zoom Video. To book an appointment, email Counselling.Centre@anu.edu.au and let them know that you are off campus.  

Other health and wellbeing services on campus include: 

A full list of student wellbeing services is available here.   

You can also have a look at these mental health resources. The (T) next to the resource means there are translated documents.   

Staff 

Staff and their family members can access free support and counselling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which can be reached on 1800 808 374 (this number operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week). 

More details can be found at https://services.anu.edu.au/human-resources/wellbeing/employee-assistance-program

Other health and wellbeing services and resources include: 

Now more than ever, look after each other and be kind to one another. We are all in this together. 

Simple steps you can take to improve your well-being

Multilingual resources

For resources on COVID-19 in 24 different languages, check out EthnoLink’s multilingual resource library: https://www.ethnolink.com.au/covid-19-coronavirus-translated-resources/