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Published: 9 October 2020

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National President, Ms Christine Craik hopes World Mental Health Day 2020 (10 October) will highlight mental health solutions that go beyond short-term, crisis-oriented responses and encompass a whole of society approach to factors affecting mental health.

“The COVID-19 crisis, along with the current recession, have underscored the importance and value of healthy communities which prevent ill-health and promote mental health and accessible early intervention services.”

“We have an opportunity to re-build our mental health system by broadening our approach and addressing the social determinants of health.”

“The pandemic has led to job losses, insecurity of income and housing and social restrictions. Many of us are trying to work from home at the same time as we care for children or family members whose formal care has been interrupted.”

“Our daily lives have been disrupted and we are living with increased uncertainty in the face of a recession. All of this has generated significant stress for many in the community. Social workers have also observed an increase in family violence, suicidal thoughts and distress among service users.”

Ms Craik said the Federal budget had been a missed opportunity to reform the community’s approach to Mental Health.

“Although the AASW has welcomed the increase in the number of sessions available under Better Access, the Budget did nothing to address the factors that we know contribute to poor mental health such as poverty, inequality and financial insecurity. A mentally healthy society is one that takes care of its most vulnerable members and this pandemic has exposed the gaps in our systems.”

“The coming cuts to income support rates and housing payments have compounded feelings of anxiety as people are worried about whether they’ll make ends meet, find work again or afford to manage their mental health and wellbeing into the future. “

“Social workers know that people attain the optimal level of health in a society in where everyone’s needs are met and in where everyone is valued equally. Reform along these lines is needed now more than ever,” she said.

If this has raised any concerns for you call: Lifeline: 13 11 14

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers