Mental health and wellbeing
To coincide with the release of Murray PHN’s first Murray Health Report on mental health in May 2021, Murray Health Voices were asked how their mental health and wellbeing was faring throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who we heard from
Seventy-five per cent of participants were aged 51 years or older and 81% were female. The highest number of responses came from the North East Victoria region (40%), followed by Central Victoria (35%).
Health Voices were asked to complete several self-rating exercises, including:
Mental health during the pandemic
Most Health Voices rated their overall mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic as good:
Current level of mental health
Most Heath Voices rated their level of mental health in May/June 2021 as good (27%) or very good (27%). Nineteen per cent rated it as fair, 17% said that it fluctuated and 8% said that their mental health was excellent.
Frequency of loneliness during the pandemic
Health Voices said that they: rarely (41%), occasionally (29%), frequently (24%) and never (6%) experienced loneliness during the pandemic.
Maintaining good health
When asked what elements of health were most impacted during the pandemic, 56% social, 54% said mental and emotional, 46% physical and 8% spiritual.
Interestingly, 25% of Voices selected three to four elements and 6% said all five areas had been difficult for them to maintain.
Accessing mental health services
Health Voices were asked to rate how accessible they perceived their local mental health services to be. They answered: fair (29%), poor (25%), good (19%), and very good to excellent (10%).
Awareness of a free mental health service
Health Voices were asked if they had heard of the free Head2Help service (now called Head to Health) available in person or by phone to support people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic: 46% had heard of it, 42% had not and the rest were unsure (12%).
Ideas for local mental health services
When Health Voices were asked what they would like to see changed regarding mental health services where they lived, the most common theme that emerged was access, which included themes of timeliness/long wait times, not being tailored to needs, cost, too complex to navigate, lack of services and different methods like telehealth were needed.
Some Voices mentioned the need for access to services focused on preventing and raising awareness of suicide, and that focus on care following suicide within a community.
Other Voices believed that communities should have a greater responsibility in promoting good mental health by helping to break down the stigma and encourage prevention activities and available supports.
If you need support
It’s ok to not be ok and help is available should you need it – the sooner you head to help, the better you will feel. Head to Health is a free state-wide service that is available over the phone by calling 1800 595 212.
The information shared by our Health Voices through this and other surveys is helping to enhance Murray PHN’s mental health service planning.