STATISTICS show that the number of Australians experiencing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, were already on an upward trend prior to COVID-19 and successive lockdowns, particularly in Victoria, amplified this, with Lifeline breaking a disturbing record in August 2021, receiving almost 3500 calls for help in a single day.

The rise in mental health issues has the Mallee Family Care CEO, Teresa Jayet, calling for people to look out for each other, particular over the Christmas period.

“Historically we know that while many people look forward to the festive season, for others, it is a time of significant distress, when feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression and anxiety can become overwhelming,” Ms Jayet said.

“The pressures that exist around the Christmas period can heighten emotions.

“Stressful situations such as family conflict and disconnection from loved ones can be triggers as can the burden of financial issues, exacerbated by Christmas spending.”

To anyone who is experiencing difficulties Ms Jayet’s message is clear.

“It’s absolutely okay not to be okay but there are people and organisations out there who will help you to cope,” she said.

“Don’t ever think that you’re on your own.

“Even over the Christmas break, there are services available to support you, including 24 hour helplines.”

Mallee Family Care has recently expanded its mental health service as a result of funding from the Victorian Government and Ms Jayet said the organisation is committed to ensuring people in the region can access support when and where they need it.

“Our mental health service is focused on providing quality care locally because we know it’s a critical component in recovery,” she said.

“Regional and remote Australians are experiencing mental health issues at disproportionality high rates and we need to respond to this with support that addresses the particular needs and circumstances of the people in our community.”

Ms Jayet encouraged anyone needing support to contact Mallee Family Care on 5023 5966.

She said people can also phone the Partners in Wellbeing Helpline, which operates after-hours (until 10pm), on 1300 375 330 to be connected to Mallee Family Care and for immediate support.

“If you, a family member or friend needs urgent support, the key is to reach out, immediately. Regardless of the hour, there are services that will help,” Ms Jayet added.