Happy New Year everyone and welcome to 2020!
For those of you who are already back at work, we hope you enjoyed your summer break and feel rejuvenated for the year ahead. For those of you who are still on holidays, we hope you continue to enjoy this special time with your loved ones.
Although the festivities and holidays often provide a nice time to pause and rejuvenate and spend time with loved ones, for many people in Australia, it unfortunately has been a sad and devastating time.
With Australia experiencing one of the worst natural disasters in our history, our heartfelt wishes go out to all the people affected by the fires, including those who have tragically lossed their lives, homes and livestock.
We are also deeply saddened by the loss of our beautiful natural environment and Australian wildlife that we so much love.
With despair however, also comes hope…
Hope drives us to keep moving forward, to persevere even in the face of adversity, to trust that better days are coming. It allows us to focus on our goals and it motivates us to take the necessary steps required to achieve something better. It involves “planning and motivation and determination” (Maholmes, 2014).
What also helps, are the countless acts of kindness from all walks of life. Acts of kindness have helped to restore hope and faith and have re-ignited the human spirit of compassion, empathy, love and care.
To assist Australia’s bushfire relief efforts, millions of dollars have not only been raised by the general public, but countless resources and services have also been offered and are currently being provided, such as free tradespeople and online initiatives that are paying it forward helping local business in the affected areas stay in business. It also includes the many mental health professionals who are currently providing the ongoing counselling and support that is so desperately needed to help these people rebuild their lives and communities.
If you and/or your loved ones have been affected by the fires, and are experiencing a range of thoughts and emotions including sadness and grief, fear and trauma, stress, anxiety, anger, a loss of hope, and many other emotions, please speak to your local doctor and seek professional help.
If you haven’t been affected, please check in with your loved ones and colleagues – they may not be coping and your support may be the encouragement they need to speak to their GP.
Information and support is available
The Australian Psychological Society has produced a number of comprehensive and practical fact sheets to help individuals prepare and recover from the bushfires. It includes how to look after children who have been affected by the bushfires, and who are currently experiencing trauma and anxiety.
The resources developed also highlight the importance of helpful thinking, developing and strengthening social connections, taking time to participate in pleasurable activities, sleeping well, problem solving and managing emotional distress.
For further information about these topics, please visit https://www.psychology.org.au/Australian-bushfires-2020.
BeyondBlue and The Life in Mind team at Everymind have furthermore developed a list of resources to support bushfire affected communities and the general public, including information on where to seek immediate counselling.
Our sincere thanks to all the firefighters and volunteers!
On a final note, we would like to sincerely thank all the firefighters and volunteers who have been doing an amazing job in the affected areas, including helping communities rebuild their lives and homes.
If you would like to help and haven’t as yet had a chance to donate, please consider the following state-based services and organisations:
When it is safe to do so, please also consider visiting the affected regions in your state, and support these local communities as best you can, to help rebuild their businesses, their homes and overall area.
We wish all Australians affected, a smooth recovery of healing and rebuilding, and wish you all a 2020 of new beginnings filled with good health, wellbeing, prosperity and happiness…
Like this article? Then share it on social media.
Want to be kept up to date? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and as a thank you gift, receive our health & wellbeing e-Book for free.
The Australian Psychological Society. www.psychology.org.au/Australian-bushfires-2020
Life in Mind Australia. www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au/mental-health-support-for-bushfire-affected-communities
Maholmes, V. (2014). Fostering resilience and well-being in children and families in poverty: Why hope still matters. Oxford University Press.