‘Lockdown fatigue’ takes toll on youth mental health

ENQUIRIES UP BY NEARLY 40 PERCENT… Shepparton’s Headspace centre, which provides support for 12-25 year olds, has seen a surge in demand since the Coronavirus pandemic hit. Photo: Struan Jones.

AS the Goulburn Valley pushes deeper into another six weeks of lockdown, mental health experts are experiencing a further spike in calls for assistance from young people.

Headspace Shepparton, which provides counselling and support to people aged from 12-25, have reported seeing a near 40 percent increase in enquiries over the past six months compared to the same period last year.

Community awareness officer at Headspace Shepparton, Leah Farnham, said the impact of social isolation has severely affected young people, as socialising with peers makes up an important part of their day-to-day lives and their development.

As an immediate result of stage three restrictions, many young people had their weekly sport schedules wiped and have been sent home from school for the rest of term three, fracturing the structure most young people live their lives by.

“The older we get, the more likely we’re able to just sit with ourselves. We are not so reliant on our peers for that connection,” Ms Farnham said.

“But when you’re in year 11 or 12, this is all a hugely isolating and lonely change.”

Ms Farnham said thankfully, the current generation of young people were largely open to discussing their mental health and seeking help.

“In one sense we have a group of young people savvy around their mental health, but then help services might be overwhelmed in times of crises,” Ms Farnham said.

“For them, it’s the age of VCE, university, meeting partners, moving house, getting first jobs, but all of those things are up in the air or on hold right now. It can cause anxiety.”

Ms Farnham said people should be mindful of the amount of news they are exposed to in a time of unrelenting headlines. Staying connected with friends and family and getting active is more important than knowing the latest COVID-19 case numbers.

“Importantly, abstain from alcohol or drugs. It may seem like a coping strategy but it doesn’t help in the long run,” she said.

If you, or anyone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Anyone aged between 12-25, or parents, can call Headspace Shepparton on 5823 8800.