beyondblue encourages bushfire-affected communities to continue looking after mental health, five years after devastating February 2009 fires

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beyondblue welcomes recognition of the valuable support Men’s Sheds have given communities in the five years after devastating bushfires in Victoria, and encourages people living in bushfire-affected areas to continue looking after one another’s mental health.

A report on the progress of rebuilding and recovery of Victorian bushfire-affected communities, commissioned by the Victorian Government, found that Men’s Sheds had made a real difference to local men, assisting them in their recovery.

The report found that the most common disorder after such a significant disaster is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, along with depression and various problems associated with anxiety.

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said it was important for communities to remain vigilant as many people still required ongoing assistance in their recovery.

“People who have lived through the devastation of the 2009 Victorian bushfires may have experienced a very wide range of emotions in the years since. They have witnessed the destruction of towns and communities and a huge loss of life and livelihoods, from which they have to rebuild,” she said.

“Such stress can lead to people experiencing depression or anxiety and beyondblue has a number of resources to equip people with information on how they can help themselves, their families and friends.

“This report has shown how beneficial community support can be to people in their recovery and even though five years have passed, the memories of the fires and the emotions they evoke remain vivid, ” she said.

Ms Harman said recovery after a major emotional trauma could take years and young people affected by the bushfires faced increased risk of anxiety or depression.

“What is worrying is that the majority of respondents (90 per cent) who reported being affected by the bushfires had not accessed counselling or specialist mental health services, so it is vital communities continue to provide appropriate support to those who are still recovering.

“We welcome the Victorian Government’s pledge to support Men’s Sheds in the 2009 bushfire-affected areas to access existing funding and support them in local promotional activities to engage more members of their community.”

Mental health professionals are available 24/7 at the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for email or online chat (3pm till midnight).

News Source : beyondblue encourages bushfire-affected communities to continue looking after mental health, five years after devastating February 2009 fires
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