COVID-19

Despair deepens for girls as lockdown drags on

For many young people getting to 80 per cent means they can stay alive.The country’s leading mental health experts have sounded the alarm about lockdown’s corrosive impact on our young people’s mental health – warning girls are in the firing line.Orygen executive director Professor Pat McGorry said the Australian public needs “a clear statement of hope and competence to navigate our way out of this constant lockdown scenario as soon as possible”. “That time is not now because clearly we don’t have the vaccination coverage,” he said.“When you reach 80 per cent plus the value proposition changes and that’s when mental health becomes a much more serious consideration than it is right now. “Otherwise, I think people’s morale will just go through the floor and then it probably already is pretty low at the moment.” Daily Telegraph – News Feed latest episodeOrygen head of suicide prevention Professor Jo Robinson is highly concerned an increase in suicide among girls and young women is being masked by overall suicide rates remaining stable during lockdown. She pointed to a 37 per cent increase in young female suicide rates in Japan during July to October 2020, while Scotland saw a 3 per cent increase in female suicides.Here in the NSW, the period between January and May 2021 saw us lose 95 females to suicide compared to 79 during the same five-month period in 2020. “Suicide rates in young women have been going up here too, and there is every chance the pandemic will make this worse,” Prof Robinson said. “I realise lockdowns are required at this point but we need to be moving quickly to a new phase of pandemic management (with the required vaccination availability) so we have other levers to use that don’t have the negative consequences we are seeing right now.” Number of patients under 25 prescribed antidepressantsPremier Gladys Berejiklian and Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor did not respond to requests for comment. A NSW Health spokeswoman failed to provide a gender breakdown of suicides in NSW by age.“Overall suicide deaths among people aged under 24 years do not appear to have increased in 2020 and 2021 compared to the same period in 2019,” she said.“The NSW Government continues to invest in, and enhance, services and programs thatprovide support to young people at risk of suicide, with a record investment of $2.6 billion inmental health services in 2021-22.” Loneliness is a deadly diseaseLoneliness is deadly and just as dangerous as any other illness. But there is hope. That’s the view of 20-year-old Lotte Carter, who says the unconditional support of her family, routine and the ability to go to work have been the things keeping her alive. The Potts Point woman said she “has been in some very dark places in the past”. During the 2020 lockdown the aspiring zoo keeper experienced acute symptoms of her ongoing depression, anxiety, anorexia, post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.“I was in the emergency department about four times last year,” she said. “I have a boyfriend now but back then I did not.“I have more support for this lockdown because I know what to expect and how to prevent things escalating and how to recognise triggers.“Last lockdown, everyone was in new territory. People were saying last time that they did not know what to do.”Miss Carter has been attending her job as a veterinary nurse, which she says has been keeping her in check. She can’t attend any of her anorexia support groups, “which makes recovery more difficult”. But despite her challenges, she said there is hope. “My parents have helped keep structure for me and if I’m not working I’ll go out for a walk with them and we have been planning meal times ensuring that I’m eating,” she said.“My mum and I have been sewing face masks with each other.“I think that my story is one of hope. I’m lucky to have the unconditional support of my family. “With enough love and support I won the battle against myself. “It’s not easy and it is not a linear journey upwards. I’ve been seeing psychiatrists and psychologists since I was seven years old. It’s taken me 13 years to get to this point.”Miss Carter says young people have been enduring the brunt of social isolation brought on by lockdowns.“A lot of young people feel lost and stuck and that’s not the way youth is supposed to be,” she said. “Young people are incredibly social and they go out all the time and do stuff. “When you have that taken away – and are forced to spend more time in your own thoughts – it is very hard.“That’s probably why there’s more of an increase in mental health issues among young people.“Loneliness is deadly and just as dangerous as any other illness.”

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