IT can be the phone call that saves someone's life.
In March, Lifeline's telephone counselling service smashed its 57 year record, receiving more than 90,000 calls for help.
More than half of all callers were wanting to talk about concerns or anxiety about the COVID-19 health crisis with the busiest day being the Good Friday public holiday where 3197 calls were logged.
Lifeline is now receiving a call every 30 seconds at its 40 centres across Australia, many of which are located in regional, rural and remote locations.
There has been a 25 per cent increase in demand for telephone counselling services.
Lifeline centres provide mental health education, face to face counselling and therapeutic groups for people at-risk, or bereaved, by suicide.
Kelly Saidey, the suicide and prevention manager for Lifeline Mid Coast, said the community is struggling under the impacts of COVID-19 which are mirrored through the emotions of grief and loss.
"We've had a lot of loss in our lives in the last few weeks," Ms Saidey said.
"We've lost our everyday freedom, our finance and security, a lot of people have lost jobs, they've lost their social connections and the general routine of the day has been lost as well.
"During these times of loss and grief there's a lot of feelings that come up - numbness, denial, frustration, anger, sadness and disbelief and these feelings can be a hard thing to deal with."
Lifeline encourages people to get creative with how they interact.
Here are some ways to stay connected if self-isolating:
- Set up a gratitude tree - where every member posts a message or sends a text to other members to share something they are grateful for.
- Find a buddy, or group of, to set daily challenges with. These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage and check in daily to stay motivated.
- Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way... kind of like Goggle Box but you're not sharing the couch.
- If your local community has one, join its social media group! This will keep you up to date with what's going on directly around you. It may also include ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.
Strategies to help you cope through social isolation:
1. Recognise when it's getting too much - watch out for signs of stress and get extra support when things become overwhelming. Allow yourself extra time to get things done. Try to limit exposure to media and social media that may heighten your sense of anxiety.
2. Talk - release your emotions and tension by talking to someone you trust. This can help put things into perspective. It's likely others in your community are experiencing similar feelings so this gives everyone an opportunity to release negative feelings and discuss practical ways to deal with the situation.
3. Develop an action plan - decide who's going to do what and when. Summarise your financial situation and discuss your options with your bank to alleviate stress of any financial concerns. Having a plan will help you feel you are making progress.
4. Take care of yourself - try to eat well, exercise and sleep. Wherever possible, schedule extra time for things you enjoy or that you find relaxing.
5. Get help - lean on family and friends. Strong support networks can provide emotional or practical support. Explain your needs and tell them exactly how they can help.
- Contact Lifeline at any time by phoning 13 11 14, or if your reception is low, text on 0477 13 11 14 every night between 6pm and midnight.