Homelessness to surge in South Australia because of COVID-19

Celeste Villani, City Editor, The City|May 10, 2020

Shelters are bracing for a surge in homelessness in SA in both employed and unemployed people because of the COVID-19 crisis – there’s already been a huge spike in the CBD.

Read the article here …

How to improve your mental health: 5 things you can do for your wellbeing!

Taking care of your physical, emotional and mental health is fundamental to improving the overall quality of your life.

However, mental health care can easily be neglected or misinterpreted as a luxury instead of the necessity it actually is. No two people are the same and not all issues can be solved with a few self-caring practices, but implementing these changes into your daily routine can help strengthen your overall mental health. In recognition of Mental Health Week, here are the day-to-day practices you can use to improve your mental wellbeing.

1. Look after your body

Exercise is as important for mental health as it is for physical health. Whether it is a strenuous High Intensity Interval Training session at your local gym or a morning stroll around your neighbourhood, exercise promotes the release of feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. According to Beyond Blue, studies have demonstrated that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as therapy and medication. A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that going for a 15 minute run or hour long walk daily reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Additionally, even five minutes of cardio or aerobic exercise can begin to reduce anxiety, as discovered by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Finding a sport you enjoy, inviting a friend along and incorporating it into your daily routine are achievable changes you can make to better your mental health.

2. Check in with yourself

Pay attention to your mind and body, ask yourself; do I have less energy than I used to? Or, have I lost interest in everything I used to be passionate about?

Putting time aside for yourself is an important way to keep control of your mental health. In order to change behavioural patterns and emotions, it is essential to identify negative thinking patterns. Certain apps for mindfulness such as What’s Up and IMoodJournal can help you keep track of your wellbeing, habits and moods. Even journaling can help you both express and reflect on your own state of mind. Familiarising yourself with your body and mind can help you be self-aware and susceptible to the changes in your moods and behaviour.

3. Focus on building healthy, supportive relationships

Having a healthy support network is an essential way to create a sense of wellbeing. Strong interpersonal relationships are important as they give us a sense of purpose and belonging while also reinforcing that we are not alone during difficult times. A study conducted by SANE Research conveyed that almost 90% of respondents believed social relationships to be ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in regard to the management of their mental health. Talking to friends and family is a useful way to recount what has happened throughout your day and share what is going on in your mind. Asking for help from family members and friends is a strength, not a sign of weakness. There is no shame in asking for help as being open and honest about your mental health is a great way to improve it.

4. Prioritise your sleep

Sleep is commonly regarded as one of the most important things for a person’s mental and physical health. Someone’s mood can be directly dependent on the quality of their sleep. A long and deep sleep can leave you feeling refreshed whereas a low quality sleep can cause a lack of concentration, irritability, and even increased anxiety and depression. According to Principle Research Scientist at NeuRA, Associate Professor Danny Eckert, “sleep directly impacts mental health and in the long term inadequate sleep increases the risk of developing depression, anxiety disorder, and burnt out”. The National Sleep Foundation recommends around 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night. To achieve this, a regular bedtime and waking time are paramount, along with avoiding electronic screens and stimulants, such as caffeine, before bed. A dark, cool and quiet bedroom also creates a more sleep-friendly environment.

5. Do something you love

Research indicates that those with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress and depression. Participating in a creative activity you enjoy expands your brain’s neural connections, which can release feel-good hormones such as dopamine. As neuroscientist Dr Daniel Levitin told Brit + Co, creative hobbies “are the perfect antidote to high-stress jobs of multitasking and computer-based work,” as they “hit the reset button in the brain, replenishing neurochemicals in the brain that have been depleted by a few hours of high-stress work”. Having a hobby you are passionate about can improve confidence, self-esteem, and overall wellbeing, so don’t forget to take some time out each day to do something you love.


New Research Offers Clearer Pathway for Mental Healthcare Reform in SA

A new report being launched in Adelaide today (Tuesday 19 July) provides a new foundation and direction for the reform of mental health care in South Australia.

The report, Mental Health: Exploring Collaborative Community Reform in South Australia, identifies and explores the community mental health sector priorities for reform, identifies current barriers to the provision of cross sectoral service integration and investigates the importance of sustainable accommodation and appropriate support in helping people live with mental illness.

The study was undertaken by the Australian Centre for Community Services Research at Flinders University in partnership with the Don Dunstan Foundation and the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia.

Researchers Tanya MacKay and Dr Ian Goodwin-Smith conducted one-to-one interviews with key stakeholders in the Government and community sector, and key stakeholders in community mental health reform and policy.

Community members who live with or care for someone living with mental illness also participated in focus groups to inform its key priorities from a lived experienced perspective.

“We’re really pleased to be a part of this research with its collaborative approach,” said Geoff Harris, Executive Director for MHCSA. “It sought out the views of people and families affected by mental illness as well as clinicians and service providers.

“I trust that the research and recommendations will be helpful in identifying key priorities for the development of South Australia’s mental health plan.”

Donna Harden, Executive Director of the Don Dunstan Foundation, said: “The study identifies what has worked through the ‘Stepping Up’ initiative and subsequent policies and plans; what we need to change; and what we need to start doing to support consumers on a true recovery journey to a contributing life.

“The integration of mental health support across non-mental health community services is recognised as a vital link in improving the outcomes for those experiencing mental illness.

“This has important implications for our approach to the delivery of a range of social services – such as homelessness services.”

With one in five Australians experiencing mental illness and a mental health ‘system’ described by the National Mental Health Commission (NHMC) in 2014 as “often ad hoc” and “with no clarity of roles and responsibilities or strategic approach reflected in practice” the South Australian project will play a key role in bringing much needed change.

This research highlights the importance of continuing to improve our mental health system in SA through investment in innovative community models in SA.

Concerns have been raised by stakeholders in the report about recent declines in funding for some highly effective community models.

Further information

Download the report

Download the Executive Summary

Dr Ian Goodwin-Smith
Director, Australian Centre for Community Services Research
Flinders University

Phone: +61 8 8201 3013