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Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

Mental Health

After a bushfire many people deal with memories and ongoing feelings by drawing on their own strengths, as well as the support of others, and will gradually rebuild their lives and achieve a sense of wellbeing again.

However, it is common that some people struggle to deal with feelings and thoughts that result from a bushfire or from the tragic losses that may occur. It's important to know the difference between a common reaction to a stressful or traumatic event and signs that indicate you should seek additional support.

Common Reactions

These reactions can be severe and are at their worst in the first week after the event, however, in most cases, they fade over a month. If your day-to-day functioning is seriously affected for more than one month after the event, it's important to discuss it with a GP or mental health professional. These reactions include:

Text: mother and baby kangaroo hugging

  • feeling overwhelmed
  • feeling numb and detached
  • inability to focus
  • inability to plan ahead
  • constant tearfulness
  • intrusive memories or bad dreams related to the bushfires
  • sleep disturbances
  • constant questioning –"What if I had done x, y or z, instead?"
  • 'replaying' the event and inventing different outcomes to be prepared should it happen again.

It is also important to understand that a friend, loved one or work colleague may see these reactions in you, often when you do not. They may see you are detached, unfocused, anxious, or tearful without provocation. Listen to the opinions of those you trust and discuss these issues with a GP or mental health professional.

Information provided by Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/bushfires-and-mental-health/


Local Services

Support for young people

Headspace Bega provides health and well-being services for young people aged 12-25. Their main hub is located on the Rooftop Carpark, Sapphire Marketplace, Upper Street, Bega and is open Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 5pm. They also have locations in Eden, Narooma and Cooma. Services are free, and you can contact them on 6494 8855

Catholic Care Bushfire Support Counselling

Catholic Care offers a free counselling service to support individuals, families and couples impacted by the bushfires. The service is not religious. You're welcome to phone for a chat and to find out how they can help. Call Kathryn directly on 0488 468 067

Southern NSW Local Health District

The Bega Valley Bushfire Recovery Clinicians can be contacted for support and referrals (Mon – Fri) – 6491 9300. For information about SWLHD support click this link

Fortem Australia

Supporting the wellbeing and mental fitness of first responders’ families (RFS, SES, Police, Fire & Rescue, Marine Rescue, VRA). They provide wellbeing activities that aim to build connection, family resilience and mental fitness. For support (Tues to Thurs) contact Hayley 0409 084 495  hayley.reynolds@fortemaustralia.org.au

Bushfire Recovery Centre

The BVSC Bushfire Recovery Support Service can connect you with information and access to health and wellbeing services. Call 6499 2345 or email recovery@begavalley.nsw.gov.au


Online and Telephone Counselling Services

LifeLine https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/information-and-support/bushfire/ or call 13 11 14

Beyond Blue www.beyondblue.org.au or call 1300 224 635

Kids Helpline www.kidshelpline.com.au or call 1800 551 800

Headspace www.headspace.org.au or call 1800 959 844

Mensline https://mensline.org.au or call 1300 789 978

NSW RFS members www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/volunteer-support or call 1800 049 933

Farm Gate counsellors - Contact the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511


Further Information

Red Cross Resources

The Red Cross has put together some useful resources about what you or others may experience after a crisis and how to manage it. Here is a link to their webpage https://www.redcross.org.au/get-help/emergencies/coping-after-a-crisis#helpful-resources

Booklet Coping with a major personal crisis

Audio Coping with a major personal crisis

Easy English Coping with a major personal crisis

Large Print Coping with a major personal crisis

 

Text: photo of bega river

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