COVID-19: Gotcha4Life survey reveals mental health ripple effect

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Triple M radio host and Gotcha4Life founder Gus Worland wants people to look out for each other over Christmas as a new survey reveals more people are feeling the stress of the pandemic.

A horrifying one in 10 Australians have contemplated suicide because of COVID-19.

The shocking figures, based on an online survey by charity Gotcha4Life, also revealed 39 per cent of people are feeling more stress because of the pandemic.

The figures come amid the outbreak on the northern beaches, which has crushed many people’s plans for the festive season.

Gotcha4Life founder, Triple M radio personality Gus Worland, said many people “have been hit for six” by the pandemic’s return days before Christmas.

“We really thought we were through this and what has happened in the past week just shows that we are on a knife edge,” Mr Worland, who lives on the northern beaches, said.

“There are people who have had no issues since March but are now getting strained.

“I know these figures are really tough to live with and I’m really worried about it moving forward because that welfare tap is turning off and that’s putting a lot of pressure on families.”

Mr Worland said he, like thousands of others, can’t see their parents or family members for Christmas.

The survey also revealed women have been particularly affected by an inability to see immediate family and loved ones (48 per cent versus 37 per cent of men) as well as feeling that everyone being at home for long hours has increased stress levels (30 per cent compared to 24 per cent of men).

Mr Worland said now is the time to encourage people to connect with each other, talk about problems openly and make sure others are doing OK.

“2020 has been an incredibly tough year for so many of us, therefore it is more crucial than ever to build mental fitness in ourselves and our loved ones,” he said.

“Think of it as the mind’s equivalent of hitting the gym — if you don’t work it out regularly, you will not reap the benefits.”

NRL star and Gotcha4Life ambassador Jake Trbojevic said this year “has reminded me more than ever of the importance of not only prioritising my mental health and wellbeing, but also checking in on my mates to make sure they’re doing okay too”.

NSW suicide statistics released earlier this week reveal there was a 5 per cent decrease in the number of lives lost to suicide between November 2019 and November 2020.

There were 853 lives lost to suicide in the 12 months to November 2019 and 807 lives lost in the 12 months to November 2020.

However, the reductions were all in middle-age groups, with the under 24 age group numbers staying largely the same (118 deaths).

Brain and Mind policy co-director Professor Ian Hickie said the rollback of welfare payments in March 2021 could be problematic.

“Some of the major economic and social actions during COVID crisis (JobKeeper, increased JobSeeker payments, providing housing to the homeless, preventing evictions, suspending mortgage payments etc) may well have been of most benefit to middle-aged people who would otherwise be at risk and were doing poorly in 2019,” he said.

“It appears those payments may not have been of great benefit to young people.”

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