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World Suicide Prevention Day an opportunity to renew commitment

Published: 10 September 2020

The Australian Association of Social Workers is concerned about the impacts COVID-19 has had on the mental health of many people in Australia, and on World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September) the AASW is calling on all levels of Australian government to commit to action to address the rate of suicide in the community.

AASW National President, Christine Craik said World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to renew and strengthen our commitment to increasing awareness, reducing stigma and challenging the structural issues surrounding mental health disparities within our communities.

“COVID-19 has greatly changed the way we live. ‘Normal’ life is vastly different from what many of us imagined 2020 would be like. As we adjust to the 'new normal' 2020 has presented we are experiencing many new challenges.”

“The impact of COVID19 means that the mental health of many people is at risk, particularly young people, those who have lost their jobs and livelihoods, and those experiencing mental health issues for the first time due to the uncertainty this pandemic has created.”

Ms. Craik said the virus itself, along with the accompanying restrictions such as physical distancing and self-isolation can make us feel more anxious, uncertain and emotionally distressed.

“COVID-19 is affecting all of us and has amplified various facets of inequality already facing many individuals, groups, families and the broader community. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg with mental health issues connected to COVID-19, that the road to recovery may well be a very fragile path for people as they re-emerge into a different reality for them.”

“There is an immense need for a strategic and systematic approach that targets the complexity of mental health. It requires person centred and early interventions that address the different factors impacting on an individual, as well as a whole of community approach.”

"This is the kind of work that social workers excel at and as a profession we are uniquely positioned to assist in the mental health recovery of the country from COVID-19. The AASW would welcome an all of government approach, with increased investment and focus on mental health, not only during the pandemic but also into the longer term,” she said.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers