Supporting western Sydney residents’ mental health in the current global climate

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In a world grappling with conflicts overseas and the constant stream of news and social media updates, it’s crucial to acknowledge and address the impact these events can have on mental health.

Western Sydney residents, like many others, face the challenge of maintaining their well-being and mental health while navigating times of uncertainty.

The Pulse spoke to Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Maria Cassaniti, Centre Manager at the Transcultural Mental Health Centre, who has provided advice for people in the community who may be affected by world news.

“The current conflicts overseas, coupled with the relentless exposure to shocking images and atrocities, are causing significant distress and suffering among individuals and families in western Sydney,” Maria said.

“For those with loved ones directly affected by the conflicts, the emotional burden is even heavier.

“Feelings and memories related to previous experiences of war, trauma or other grief may also surface.”

Community support and coping mechanisms

Western Sydney’s communities have a history of resilience and strength in the face of adversity.

Supporting one another at work, in our families, and within the community is a fundamental and positive way of coping and maintaining mental well-being.

In this time, it is important to:

  • Engage in everyday activities: Continue to engage in daily routines, work, family life, and community activities. Maintaining a sense of normalcy can help provide stability and reduce stress.
  • Seek support: Don’t hesitate to seek help from friends, family, or mental health professionals if you’re experiencing distress, anxiety, or other mental health challenges.
  • Limit exposure to distressing media: Excessive exposure to graphic images and news coverage of conflicts can exacerbate anxiety and distress. Consider limiting your exposure to these elements.

Protecting children

“Many adults are particularly concerned about the effects on children,” Maria said.

Parents and carers play a crucial role in protecting children from the harmful effects of excessive exposure to war and violence.

Tips to support your children:

  • Open communication: Answer children’s questions honestly and acknowledge their concerns.
  • Reassure and protect: Help children understand they are safe and protected.
  • Limit media exposure: Monitor children’s media consumption and limit their exposure to graphic images and news coverage.

When to seek professional help

If you’re experiencing persistent distress, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, or physical health problems related to stress, it’s time to seek professional help.

  • Mental Health Line: Contact the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 for 24/7 support.
  • NSW Health Mental Health Services: Visit the NSW Health website for a directory of mental health services in your area.
  • Transcultural Mental Health Line: Call the Transcultural Mental Health Line on 1800 648 911 for culturally specific mental health support in your language.
  • Transcultural Mental Health Centre: Access information on mental health and well-being in your language on the Transcultural Mental Health website.
  • NSW STARTTS: Contact the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Services (STARTTS) at 9646 6800 for mental health support for refugees and asylum seekers.

In this time, it is important to remember you’re not alone.

By reaching out for support, practicing self-care, and limiting exposure to distressing content, you can effectively manage your mental health and navigate these challenging times.