‘It’s good that people are seeking help’: SA Chief Psychiatrist
Dr John Brayley, Chief Psychiatrist, Government of South Australia
Dr John Brayley, the Chief Psychiatrist with the Government of South Australia, was IPAA South Australia’s guest earlier this week to kick off a new COVID-19 Mental Wellbeing Interview Series.
Dr Brayley was joined in conversation by Erma Ranieri, the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, to discuss the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the support available to South Australians.
At the start of the outbreak one of the first things the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist did was to look back at the research that had been done after past outbreaks, in particular the SARS virus in the early 2000s:
They focused on what happened to people if they had the SARS infection, in terms of mental health… and in some of those papers up to half who had the infection could be developing anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder…
…It doesn’t mean that people will become unwell, but we just need to be mindful of the possibility — if people have been very sick — that there can be mental health consequences.’
Dr Brayley said it had been good to see that people had been open to seeking help — the SA Government’s support lines have experienced a 10% increase compared to 2019 levels and also in Emergency Department presentations for mental health or drug and alcohol problems. Nationally, the Beyond Blue line has had about a 24% increase.
Dr Brayley said that the focus of the SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line was on delivery:
‘We don’t want people to wait until they’re at a point of crisis to call and speak to counsellors, we’d prefer to get calls earlier.
And the services have been set up to provide follow up, so it’s not just a one-off interaction if you need to have regular calls afterwards.’
A link to a video of the interview, which included a question and answer session, is available below.