AMA urges stronger focus on mental health during pandemic

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AMA national president Dr Tony Bartone has called for an increased focus on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on ABC radio, Dr Bartone said, "...mental health issues know no boundaries when it comes to situations of stress, of fear, of anxiety. Of course, for some of the younger members of the population, we've not seen times like this in our lifetimes, and it's only the older members that can remember the things like the past wars and the depression.

"So, we’ve really got to understand that mental health issues are very prevalent in our community, but at times like this, they become more pervasive, and we've got to have the supports and the connectivity to ensure that no one gets left behind."

Dr Bartone urged people to maintain contact with family and friends despite strict social distancing rules but also healthcare professionals.

"And so staying in touch with your GP by telehealth means is one of the ways, but there are also many other online services available through beyondblue, Black Dog, Lifeline, depending on the level of severity, to help you get through times of stress, anxiety, and fear like we're currently living in," he said.

"But it's also important to try and have as much routine through your day to sort of create that normality that we would normally associate. Our TV screens are full of bad messages and bad information and news at the moment, so we've got to sort of try and balance that with exercise, proper dieting, and just breaking it up so that we're not really in that siege mentality and seeing all the doom and gloom."