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Covid-19 Virus Information

At Burleigh Heads Psychology we understand that over the past few weeks the regulations and recommendations regarding COVID-19 Virus are changing rapidly and most of us are feeling confused and anxious.  Our priority is your wellbeing so here are some tips for coping during this uncertain time and some information about how you can continue  or begin to access services without exposure to infection by engaging in telehealth consultations with your preferred clinician.  Please see the eligibility criteria at the bottom of the page.

Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety

As the number of coronavirus cases rise across Australia, the level of anxiety within the community is increasing. Feelings of worry and unease can be expected following a stressful event, such as the recent declaration of a global pandemic, however, it is important that we learn to manage our stress before it turns to more severe anxiety and panic. This information sheet outlines some useful strategies which can help both adults and children cope with the stress or anxiety experienced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Learn the facts

Constant media coverage about the coronavirus can keep us in a heightened state of anxiety. Try to limit related media exposure and instead seek out factual information from reliable sources such as the Australian Government’s health alert or other trusted organisations such as the World Health Organization.

 

Keep things in perspective

 

When we are stressed, it is easy to see things as worse than they really are. Rather than imagining the worst-case scenario and worrying about it, ask yourself:

  • Am I getting ahead of myself, assuming something bad will happen when I really don’t know the outcome? Remind yourself that the actual number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia is extremely low.

  • Am I overestimating how bad the consequences will be? Remember, illness due to coronavirus infection is usually mild and most people recover without needing specialised treatment.

  • Am I underestimating my ability to cope? Sometimes thinking about how you would cope, even if the worst were to happen, can help you put things into perspective.

 

Take reasonable precautions

 

Being proactive by following basic hygiene principles can keep your anxiety at bay. The World Health Organization recommends a number of protective measures against the coronavirus, including to:

  • wash your hands frequently

  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

  • stay at home if you begin to feel unwell until you fully recover

  • seek medical care early if you have a fever, cough or experience breathing difficulties.

Practise self-care

 

To help encourage a positive frame of mind, it is important to look after yourself. Everybody practises self-care differently with some examples including:

  • maintaining good social connections and communicating openly with family and friends

  • making time for activities and hobbies you enjoy

  • keeping up a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep and avoiding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope with stress

  • practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to give your body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state.

 

Tips for talking with children about the coronavirus

 

Children will inevitably pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others, whether this be through listening and observing what is happening at home or at school. It is important that they can speak to you about their own concerns.

 

Answer their questions

 

Do not be afraid to talk about the coronavirus with children. Given the extensive media coverage and the increasing number of people wearing face masks in public, it is not surprising that some children are already aware of the virus. Providing opportunities to answer their questions in an honest and age-appropriate way can help reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing. You can do this by:

  • speaking to them about coronavirus in a calm manner

  • asking them what they already know about the virus so you can clarify any misunderstandings they may have

  • letting them know that it is normal to experience some anxiety when new and stressful situations arise

  • giving them a sense of control by explaining what they can do to stay safe (e.g., wash their hands regularly, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing)

  • not overwhelming them with unnecessary information (e.g., death rates) as this can increase their anxiety

  • reassure them that coronavirus is less common and severe in children compared to adults

  • allowing regular contact (e.g., by phone) with people they may worry about, such as grandparents, to reassure them that they are okay.

 

Talk about how they are feeling

 

Explain to your child that it is normal to feel worried about getting sick. Listen to your child’s concerns and reassure them that you are there to help them with whatever may arise in the future.

 

It is important to model calmness when discussing the coronavirus with children and not alarm them with any concerns you may have about it. Children will look to you for cues on how to manage their own worries so it is important to stay calm and manage your own anxieties before bringing up the subject with them and answering their questions.

 

Limit media exposure

 

It is important to monitor children’s exposure to media reports about the coronavirus as frequent exposure can increase their level of fear and anxiety. Try to be with your child when they are watching, listening or reading the news so you are able to address any questions or concerns they may have.

Seek additional support when needed

 

If you feel that the stress or anxiety you or your child experience as a result of the coronavirus is impacting on everyday life, a psychologist or mental health social worker may be able to help. These professionals are highly trained and qualified professionals, skilled in providing effective interventions for a range of mental health concerns, including stress. A psychologist or mental health social worker can help you manage your stress and anxiety using techniques based on the best available research.

 

If you are referred to a psychologist or mental health social worker by your GP, you might be eligible for a Medicare rebate. You may also be eligible to receive psychology services via telehealth so that you do not need to travel to see a psychologist. Ask your psychologist or GP for details.

Telehealth Eligibility

The Government has introduced new COVID-19 Medicare telehealth and telephone items. This allows psychologists to videoconference with clients who meet the eligibility criteria. The coronavirus Medicare item numbers (Telehealth: 91166, 91167, 91169, 91170 and telephone: 91181, 91182, 91183, 91184) correspond to the Better Access telehealth items (80001, 80011, 80101, 80111) and hence, the same referral and reporting requirements apply.

 

Eligible clients are those for whom at least one of the following apply:

  • the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but who is not a patient of a hospital

  • the person has been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)

  • the person is considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus being a person who is:

a. at least 70 years old; or

b. at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or

c. is pregnant; or

d. is a parent of a child under 12 months; or

e. is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised.

  • the person meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.