With almost half of Australian businesses having been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, Beyond Blue has launched a free ‘Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing’ support service, aimed at small business owners.

The service is offered through the Beyond Blue website and is funded by the government. It offers online wellbeing tips, as well as evidence-based information and self-help tools. The service also offers phone counselling services from mental health practitioners.

Focusing on the key areas of loneliness and self-isolation, as well as financial concerns, Beyond Blue’s chair Julia Gillard said the service would evolve in the coming months, as it becomes more apparent what Australians need.

“We anticipate growing demand for mental health support as this pandemic develops, both from people who are already managing mental health issues and those who have never struggled before,” Ms Gillard said.

“We’ve built this service rapidly because we understand that Australians need this support immediately, and that now more than ever, prevention matters.” Ms Gillard stressed that mental health is just as important as physical health. “We need to support people to cope and stay well, and we need to intervene early to halt any decline in the conditions of those already living with mental illness so that we reduce the longer-term impacts.”

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman revealed that Beyond Blue has seen a 30 per cent spike in contacts over the past two weeks, with an overwhelming number of those called related to COVID-19.

“People are telling us they’re feeling overwhelmed, worried, lonely, concerned about their physical health and the health of friends and loved ones, and anxious about money, job security and the economy,” she said. “Right now, people are looking for simple, practical information that’s available, reliable and relevant to them.“There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Different people will need different types of support for their mental health and wellbeing.”

She noted that at a time when the need for physical distance remains paramount, Beyond Blue is using all forms of technology to support every Australian.

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