Western Sydney psychologist unpacks the impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns

As Sydney completes its seventh week of COVID-19 lockdown and cases continue to rise, it’s understandable that people across the community are feeling the pressures of the current outbreak and everything that has come with it.

Westmead Hospital Clinical Psychologist May Ladkani explains how the current restrictions have impacted many people’s mental health and wellbeing – and what we can do to manage this. 

“In my role as a clinical psychologist, I have seen a lot of people reaching out as a result of increased anxiety of uncertainty about the current situation,” May said.

“People have lost jobs, businesses, financial independence, personal independence and, as a result, have relapsed back into unhelpful ways of coping.

“It is heartening to see people asking for help when they need it. People should never feel embarrassed or uncertain when wanting to ask for help.”

May’s advice: Reach out for help when you need it, stay in contact with loved ones, and try to keep to a routine.

“Many people are struggling with the uncertainty of the situation but we are sharing in our struggle and there is some comfort to be had in that,” she said.

“This will eventually pass, but for the time being, seek help where you need it. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask. One of the strongest things a person can do is put their hand up and say, ‘I am not okay.’

May recently featured in a NSW Health COVID-19 campaign, alongside fellow college Joanne Fernandes and other frontline workers, where they reminded everyone of the importance of staying vigilant in these uncertain times.

“COVID is, and should be, everybody’s business. If we don’t stay on top of testing, continue to follow the health advice, and remain vigilant, then the numbers will continue to increase.” May said.

“Getting tested for COVID at the sign of any symptom or after any possible contact with the virus means you can ensure your own safety and the safety of the community by stopping the spread early.

“We need to work as a team in our communities to stop the spread and bring down the numbers so we can get back to doing the things we love.”

As a frontline worker, May has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and encourages everyone else to do the same. 

“I want to keep myself, my loved ones, and the community safe. I feel I have a duty to do my bit in ensuring we can all get back to a regular way of life,” May said.

“Vaccination is important in keeping ourselves safe, as well as our loved ones and the community. 

“The more people that are vaccinated, the greater chance we have at reducing the risk that COVID poses. Go get your vaccination.”

To book your vaccination, go to nsw.gov.au or via the Australian Government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker.

There more than 30 testing clinics in western Sydney today and more than 420 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week.

To find your nearest clinic visit COVID-19 testing clinics or contact your GP.

For mental health services phone NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.