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Helpline calls rise


Helpline calls rise

Thousands of Queenslanders have been reaching out for help from online and phone counselling services. WORDS: Tracey Ferrier and Darren Cartwright, AAP.

With positive coronavirus test results slowing in Queensland, of growing concern is now the number of people reaching out for help while the state is in lockdown.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Lifeline, which assists people experiencing a personal crisis, has received an “unprecedented” 24,000 calls a week in recent times.

Ms Palaszczuk committed $3.5 million in funding to assist Lifeline and a further $1 million to Legacy, which assists the families of those who have served with defence.

Lifeline recorded its highest monthly total of calls in the organisation’s 56-year history in March. “Many are facing circumstances they could never have envisaged they’d be in,” Lifeline executive Brent McCracken says.

“Many are feeling their life is becoming worthless.”

The coronavirus crisis has also put unprecedented pressure on Kids Helpline, which had 26,500 calls – which equates to about one a minute – in the first three weeks of April.

That was up 51 per cent on the same period last year.

Demand on Lifeline’s help line peaked on Good Friday when some 3200 people reached out for support.

Lifeline volunteers and staff answered 90,000 calls for help in March – the highest month tally ever recorded. That was up 25 per cent on a year ago, and meant that operators dealt with one call every 30 seconds.

Mr McCracken says Good Friday was “the biggest day in our history” as people marked Easter under onerous but necessary isolation rules.

“We saw people really struggling with loneliness, and the isolation, exacerbating the circumstances they’re in,” he says.

Asked who was reaching out for help, he simply said “everybody”.

“[People] losing their business, losing their job, finding themselves without other people around them, having a lack of social contact.

“Many are facing circumstances they could never have envisaged they would be in,” he adds. “Many are feeling their life is becoming worthless.”

They included people with chronic mental health issues exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis, but also a new group – people who’d never reached out for support before.

Young adults contacting Kids Helpline are struggling with the impact the COVID-19 lockdown and pandemic is having on their lives, says yourtown chief executive officer Tracy Adams.

“Our findings suggest that these young people may also have larger concerns about what this means for their future, for Australia or for the planet,” she says.

“We are also seeing some very vulnerable children and young people who are having to now deal with existing parental abuse and conflict during lockdown.”

Lifeline 131 114

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800


Did you know?

While older age groups face the biggest health risks from the virus itself, and millennials and generation X are navigating the dual challenges of remote work and home-schooling, it is 18- to 24-year-olds who have reported the highest levels of stress in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is one of the preliminary findings from the COVID-19 Social Impact Report, released by impact- monitoring technology company Socialsuite. The report is based on data from more than 400 organisations across the globe who have signed up for their free COVID-19 Social Impact Assessment tool, which provides businesses with real-time insights into how their own stakeholders and other organisations around the world are handling the pandemic.

Two out of three people surveyed reported their stress levels at seven out of 10 or higher. Those aged 18 to 24 were more likely to report this stress rating, followed by 55- to 64-year-olds. Respondents aged 35 to 54 were less likely to have a stress rating of seven
or more.


If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out

Sunshine Coast business owners and employees are feeling the burden with hundreds of retail, service and hospitality businesses forced to close under the COVID-19 shutdown. The Sunshine Coast Council is offering much-needed support for small local businesses with its B-Well & Prosper Program. The initiative, which is in partnership with Mindstar, offers a range of wellness, stress-management and cash-flow tips for business owners with fewer than
20 employees. Workshops, podcasts, blogs and mental health toolkits are also available.


Sunshine Coast Council also has a one-stop webpage providing links to various business guidelines and information, including government support programs.


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