Central West flood victims told to look after their mental health

SWOLLEN RIVER: The Bogan River was among the Central West rivers that rose after heavy rain in September. Photo: Grace Ryan

SWOLLEN RIVER: The Bogan River was among the Central West rivers that rose after heavy rain in September. Photo: Grace Ryan

Central West residents are being told that floods can claim lives and devastate families as and after they subside.

They are being urged to reach out to family members, loved ones and friends impacted by flooding, “especially if they have not heard from them in some time”.

Flood victims feeling despondent and contemplating self-harm or suicide should seek and accept help, according to the Western NSW Local Health District.

The health district’s Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) consultant Di Gill is sounding the alarm as flooding continues to disrupt lives, businesses and communities in the region.

“Natural disasters like flooding can really impact people’s mental health and we urge everyone in central western NSW in flood-affected areas to make sure they look after themselves, their families and their communities,” she said.

“Spending time with family and friends and accepting help when it is offered are some of the ways people can look after their mental health during a time of crisis.

“Understand that you are not alone in your experience, and try to get back into your routine, including your eating, sleeping and exercise regimes can keep you mentally and physically healthy during difficult times.”

Ms Gill identified signs indicating the need for professional intervention.

“When emotional reactions last longer than usual, when distress interferes with the ability to participate in day-to-day activities and when you experience withdrawal from relationships or feel overwhelmed or panicked for no apparent reason, you should seek assistance,” she said.

 “Excessive guilt, loss of interest in the future and thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide, are all signs to reach out for help.

“It is okay to ask for help and there is nothing wrong with reaching out when things get too difficult, especially in this time of natural disaster.”

Ms Gill said help could be obtained during “these difficult times of flooding or at any time” by calling the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

To learn more about RAMHP visit ramhp.com.au.

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