Focus on mental health as pandemic drags on

Article supplied by RFDS: One of the most widespread challenges of the pandemic has been how to deal with lockdowns, changes to employment and financial circumstances, and not being able to see friends and family.

One of the most widespread challenges of the pandemic has been how to deal with lockdowns, changes to employment and financial circumstances, and not being able to see friends and family.

This has put a bigger focus on mental health than ever before. The sudden and abrupt change to the way of life has seen more people needing help and reaching out for it. 

The RFDSSE Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs (MHAoD) team have been working in our communities to ensure continued access to help is available. As well as continuing to offer services such as virtual consultations and telehealth, the team has looked at other ways to support communities, families and individuals. 

Vanessa Latham

This has included the COVID-19 In-Reach Older Persons Program, funded by Western Primary Health Network, which provides practical support to Older Persons across the whole of Western and Far Western LHD.

RFDSSE Mental Health Manager Vanessa Latham and members of her team located at Broken Hill participated in the COVID testing clinic and used the opportunity to check on the mental health of the community, as well as registering people for testing. 

Mental Health

“It was lovely to be able to introduce myself and explain the sequence of what was going to happen, and say ‘my background is mental health nursing, so, how is your mental health going at this time?’,” Ms Latham said. “During high demand times when cars needed to queue, it was a great opportunity to have a little chat.” 

Like so many divisions of the RFDSSE, the MHAoD team has looked for ways to assist with the unprecedented workload of running vaccination clinics across the service’s territory. Ken Pascoe is an AoD Clinician with the Flying Doctor and in addition to his regular duties, he has been travelling across NSW to conduct vaccinations, and has been tying in his mental health training.

“We are finding a lot of children and even adults have a fear of needles so being able to calm them down, get them to conduct some breathing exercises and relax makes the process easier for them. I am finding that when we go back to administer second doses, people look for me because their first dose went so well,” Mr Pascoe said.

Thanks to your support, we are able to keep these vital services going and ensure the mental health needs of people in regional and remote Australia are well looked after.

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Message from the President, Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section)

message from President of RFDS

Article supplied by RFDS. I hope this finds you well in these strange and testing times. Restrictions on international travel have seen increased domestic travel throughout our region since COVID-19 emerged, but then restrictions to travel relating to hotspots in Melbourne, and more recently, Sydney, have then limited travel around Australia.

Alex Scamps
Alex Scamps: President, Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section)

I know that this has been a very challenging time for families with school holiday plans, and for people in our regional and remote communities, who have often had to cancel plans which promised the the opportunity to see loved onces who live far away.  

While we can count our blessings that the pandemic has not reached the serious fatality levels we have seen in countries such as India and the USA, it can be very hard on the spirit, and a test of our resilience to deal with constant change and uncertainty. 

The sooner we are all immunised against COVID-19, the better. The Flying Doctor is proud to be delivering the vaccine to our rural and remote communities, and is commited to giving everyone the opportunity to be immunised. Our frontline teams have been travelling to even the smallest communities, and doing everything they can to reach everyone. I want to thank these committed and hard-working members of our team, and to all those who support them, including you. It is important to note that this COVID response, along with respiratory clinics, is work over and above the every day work of the service, including attending to emergencies in remote areas, getting GPs out to remote clinics, and ensuring quality dental care is regularly available.

This is the reason you are so important to us. You make it possible for us to deliver this life-saving care. I know that our outback communities truly value you, and the support you give to the Flying Doctor. 

No matter that happens in the months ahead, we will be at the service of regional, rural and remote Australians. Thank you for being by our side, and making our work possible. 

Warm regards, 
Alex Scamps
President, Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section)