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Navigating OCD during the COVID-19 lockdown - an update

Navigating OCD during the COVID-19 lockdown - an update

In SANE's COVID-19 mental health series, SANE staffer, Bronwyn reflects on life during the Melbourne lockdown and shares ways in which she is navigating her way through these challenging times.

Back in March 2020, I wrote a piece describing what it was like to navigate life during the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, alongside my longstanding diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

I decided to write a follow-up, to share my thoughts about how we’ve all banded together to get through the last twelve months, and also because I found it quite cathartic to get all of this down on paper.

I hope that my words resonate with some of you, or maybe you felt the exact opposite of how I did during the lockdown. Either way, we’re all human with valid fears, anxieties and troubles – and not a single person’s experience is lesser than anybody else’s.


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Supporting our Callers, and Counsellors, in the time of COVID

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“The Help Centre plays an important role in supplementing the public and private mental health systems, which are under great strain – especially during the pandemic.” 

With demand for the SANE Help Centre up by more than 50% this year, we had a chat with our dedicated counsellor Gavan, learning more about callers’ concerns during COVID-19, and how SANE pivoted with new technology to meet greater demand. 

This year with additional investment we’ve been able to recruit seven new counsellors, as we strive to meet increased demand. 

Can you give towards the Help Centre before 31 December 2020 and support the vital work of our counsellors? Click here to donate today.   

SANE: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Gavan. How has the transition to working from home been for you as a Help Centre counsellor? 

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The reality of stigma surrounding mental health issues – Q&A with Jenni.

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Meet Jenni.

The reality of stigma surrounding mental health issues – Q&A with Jenni.

Jenni is a creative, positive person who believes that “the glass is always half full.” She enjoys sharing her mental health journey with professionals, carers, the general public and with others who have a lived experience of mental health issues.


Jenni is a SANE Australia Peer Ambassador. She has lived with a diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder for over 20 years. Schizo-affective disorder is a mental health condition marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.

In this Q&A guest blog, Jenni shares some of her experiences about the everyday impact of stigma surrounding mental health issues and why she feels so strongly about changing attitudes and educating others about complex mental health issues.

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What is the National Stigma Report Card?

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We are delighted to announce the launch of findings from the National Stigma Report Card, the most comprehensive research of its kind in Australia. 

As you may be aware, SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre, in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences and with the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, invited people living with complex mental health issues to participate in the Our Turn to Speak survey.

Our Turn to Speak was the first survey of its kind in Australia that sought to comprehensively understand the experiences of people living with complex mental health issues, and how they are affected by stigma and discrimination.

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Anxiety remains my friend, and not my foe.

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Anita talks about living with anxiety. She shares her thoughts on the challenges facing healthcare workers during the pandemic and importance of self care.

Anxiety has been my friend in life, and at times, it has been my foe.

Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. It allows us to focus and pay attention to detail, it motivates us to complete tasks well and to take action when we’re challenged. However, disproportionate levels of anxiety can lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension and worry. Left unchecked, these symptoms can lead to panic attacks, characterised by feelings of impending doom, and physical symptoms which include heart palpitations, sweating, poor concentration, sleep disturbance, irritability and muscle tension.

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Top tips for coping with anxiety during COVID

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As part of SANE's COVID mental health series, one of our Help Centre counsellors shares their top tips for coping with anxiety. 

Does uncertainty make you anxious? If you’re like most people in Australia, you’ve been dealing with uncertainty and change because of COVID. If this has caused you anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s natural to experience challenging emotions during a pandemic! But, if you’re finding you can’t get a break from anxiety, stress and worry, it’s important you have strategies to help you get through. 

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Media reporting on mental illness, violence and crime needs to change

media_photographers Brett Sayles/Pexels, CC BY 4.0

The media is a key source of information about mental illness for the public, and research shows media coverage can influence public attitudes and perceptions of mental ill-health.

But when it comes to complex mental illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia, media coverage tends to emphasise negative aspects, often choosing to focus on portrayals of violence, unpredictability and danger to others.

These portrayals can give an exaggerated impression of the actual rate at which violent incidents occur. In reality, such incidents are rare and are often better accounted for by other factors.

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COVID 19 … Enough to make you want to pull your hair out!

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During Covid-19 we've heard the concern about the impact the pandemic is going to have on people’s mental health. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. I have found myself thinking a lot about people who literally pull their hair out. People with trichotillomania. “Tricka what?” you ask. Trichotillomania comes under the umbrella of Body-focussed Repetitive Behaviour Disorders.

Treatment of trichotillomania can be hard to find, but people find ways of managing the disorder and living with the impact it has on their lives. People with trichotillomania go to great lengths to disguise the damage from their hairpulling, and many find it incredibly anxiety-provoking to tell another person about their experience or seek help.

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Care farming: creating community in nature

Liz-Everard-and-Julia-Westland Hocking Fellow, Liz Everard, and Flourish Australia Mental Health Consumer Representative, Julia Westland.

Liz Everard, 2019–2020 Hocking Fellow, reflects on how COVID highlighted the potential of nature-based interventions.

When I started my Hocking Fellowship project in late 2019, I intended to research a number of therapeutic or care farm communities that exist in the United States and Ireland. My aim was – and still is – to explore how this model of care could be provided in the Australian context. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic has put my travel plans on hold. 

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Has COVID created a new understanding of complex mental health issues?

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Lisa talks about living with depression and anxiety. She shares her thoughts on how conversations have changed during the pandemic.

Has there been another topic of conversation over the past few weeks besides COVID? Gone is the simple “Hey, how are you?” replaced by “How are you coping?” and “Are you staying sane?”. It’s that last one that gets me. And I’m just as guilty as others because I’ve heard myself ask a version of that very question: “How are you dealing, in amongst the crazy?”. 

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