Reach out – to a friend, family member, or to the stranger on the helpline

A tragedy occurred within the Nepali community in Australia yesterday. A woman, in her mid-twenties is believed to have committed suicide. She was a student, a temporary visa holder in Australia, and friends and family members have expressed shock at the news. “She wasn’t someone who would do that”, an acquaintance who had heard the news from external sources said.

The news has the Nepali Diaspora talking – messages of hope, condolence, and sympathy are being shared, and almost parallelly, under the current, another dialogue is ensuing:

‘The impact of the health crisis on our mental well-being”. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all aspects of our lives – personal, social, emotional, which can take a toll on our mental health. With different states forced to impose different regulations, we may feel a sense of loneliness, or even anxiety over uncertainty. While most of us are affected, its level may vary upon individuals – nevertheless, for our own well-being it is important to talk, to communicate, and to share. Be it with a friend, a family member, or the stranger who picks up calls at our several hotlines.

Talking with a friend may help us understand others are undergoing similar levels of stress and anxiety, which will help us gain perspective over the problem being not individual, but communal. Productive discussions about mental health should be enouraged within our social circles.

Community organisations should constantly engage with its members, to identify and reach out to vulnerable people. Communication programs from community organisations and influential leaders may also have a positive impact – many a times, real life stories of people and their struggle helps victims of undue mental stress identify, and associate, which could further encourage the person to adopt similar behaviour.

Similarly, within our own social circles too, it is always important to talk to everyone about mental health – for example, in our office environment, we have formed a group which helps people discuss their own experience of the lockdown.

Below are a list of helplines one could reach out to in Australia:

☎️Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
☎️Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
☎️Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
☎️Confidential Helpline: 1800 737 732
☎️Mensline: 1300 78 99 78
☎️Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
🚨Emergency: 000

Concerns over temporary visa holders: 

While the health crisis does not discriminate between permanent residents and temporary visa holders, temporary residents, especially newly arrived international students have been identfied as vulnerable groups. Therefore, it is important to make special outreach programs to reach out to them, and see if their immediate problems can be resolved. Solving immediate problems such as hunger and shelter reduces the person’s mental stress, as per Subesh Panta in an earlier report for Nepalese Voice.

Lastly, to everyone, times may be testing, but that is the true nature of time – it is never permanent. And just like every other crisis, this too shall pass. While we wait for it to pass, it is each and everyone’s responsibility to look out for others.

Disclaimer: As of 8th May, 2020, there hasn’t been any confirmed reports which link the above person’s suicide to psychosocial health. The article has been drafted to encourage people who are feeling undue stress to reach out for help, and not to establish any other relations.