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Coping with a sudden Victorian lockdown

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Feeling overwhelmed or upset by the news of a hard Victorian lockdown? We are too.

2021 is off to an interesting start. With a steady easing of restrictions those of us in Melbourne started to experience a new COVID normal, with so much valued freedom. So, the news today that we are going back into a hard lockdown at midnight can be hard to process.

For those of us living with complex mental health issues or with a history of trauma, the suddenness of this lockdown could be a trigger for mental health symptoms and high distress.

It’s really important we take care of ourselves during this lockdown, and the first step is to acknowledge whatever we may feel in response, it’s valid.

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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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Managing anxiety when your fear comes to life

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Bushfire trauma can have a profound impact on existing mental health issues. Finding the right support is key to getting through disaster recovery and bushfire anniversaries.

The town of Wolumla, on the New South Wales south coast is a small village just south of Bega, surrounded by picturesque farmland. But over the summer of 2019/20, the landscape changed. On New Year’s Day, a ring of flames surrounded the region, with fires burning to the north and south. The sky turned orange, blotting out the sun. The ground was blanketed in ash. Fear gripped the town.

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Taking steps to rebuild relationships through bushfire recovery

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Bushfire trauma puts huge pressure on even the strongest relationships. It’s important to realise you’re not alone as you recover.

Bushfire disaster is a perfect storm for anxiety. A lack of control of the situation combined with the threat of loss can be a fertile ground for feelings of despair, uncertainty and hopelessness.

Grace, from Long Beach NSW, knows this all too well. She and her family were evacuated three times during the Black Summer fires. And while their house survived, her childhood home, where her parents still lived, was lost to the flames – an event she describes as heartbreaking.

The menacing fires and displacement both brought out strong anxious feelings for Grace. “It’s hard when you suffer from anxiety as it is,” she says. “Then, when you’re faced with that fear, it’s even harder.”

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Finding a way through your own bushfire recovery

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Bushfire recovery is different for everyone. Finding a way back can take time, but there are green shoots on the other side.

Experiencing disaster takes a significant toll. The added pressure of being responsible for others – whether they’re family members, friends or people in your community – can make it really hard to find time and space for important self-care. But not doing it can have devastating effects.

Butch lives in Moss Vale, in the New South Wales Southern Highland area. In January 2020, a fire jumped a river and raced towards homes, sandwiching his town between two major blazes. Although he and his family were safe, Butch got a call asking if he would be part of an emergency response team in Batemans Bay.

When he arrived, the town was cloaked in smoke and lit by the red glow of flames.

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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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Visible: How art has helped me express my mental health story

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For many young people, the transition to adulthood can be uncertain and overwhelming. Add to that a feeling of isolation and disconnection, and it’s no surprise this is the time where people are most likely to face mental health challenges. 

SANE Australia Peer Ambassador Jess has recently co-designed a new project called Visible.

Visible is a creative collaboration between young Australians experiencing mental health challenges, and artists. These partnerships have produced an insightful collection of creative expressions that share the real experiences of mental health challenges faced by young people. The aim is to change how mental health is seen and spoken about across Australia, and create a culture that’s more accepting and understanding. 


Here's what Jess had to say about the project:

"My Visible expression tells the story of the long-term impacts of childhood trauma and adversity. More specifically, it tells the story of the events leading to my suicide attempt and how a chance encounter after the fact changed my life and the way I relate to my complex mental illness forever. 

By and large, the highlight of Visible for me has been working with my artist and collaborator, Anna. Anna and I are great buddies now and support each other's artistic endeavours and growth. I will always be grateful to Visible for bringing Anna's kind, and very authentic energy into my life. She told my story with such richness and consideration. I don't think I have ever felt more seen, heard or held by another person in my life. 

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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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