Bushfires and mental health supports
(6 January 2020) The South Australian community is being severely impacted by the devastating effects of bushfires, with loss of life, property and businesses. These events significantly impact the health and wellbeing of communities, and individuals can experience intense, confusing and frightening emotions. The impact of a disaster like this is far reaching and, whilst we rightly turn our support to those directly affected, these emotions can also be experienced by others who are witnessing the event through media coverage or those that have connection through family and friends.
As an employer, you may be looking at how to support your employees impacted by the bushfires (directly or indirectly). After a disaster or major incident it’s common to experience stress and grief. For some people it can affect their mental health straight away, but others may not feel the impacts until later. The following links provide a range of mental health information and support services available which could assist your workforce (including yourself) during this time:
- The Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Access Program providing free counselling and additional mental health support for individuals, families and communities and emergency services workers affected by the bushfires
- The SA Health website includes information to assist with supporting people and communities at risk of, or affected by, disasters.
- Beyond Blue’s website provides information on “bushfires and mental health” and signs of when someone should seek additional help.
- The Australian Psychological Society has compiled a range of resources to help Australians to prepare and recover from the threat of a bushfire.
- The Country Fire Service (CFS) website provides information about how to stay informed about fires, the Bushfire Information Hotline on 1800 362 361, as well as information on creating bushfire plans.
Specific mental health support services include:
- As an employer, you may have your own Employee Assistance Program that you can promote and remind employees to access.
- Regional Access offers free professional telephone and online counselling 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people 15 years and older living or working in regional South Australia. Phone 1300 032 186 for immediate support or visit the Regional Access website for online counselling.
- Beyond Blue has a 24/7 support service. Phone 1300 224 636 or visit their website to email or chat online.
- Lifeline can be called 24/7 on 13 11 14 for confidential telephone crisis support. Bushfire relief resources are also available on the website.
- For further information about creating a mentally healthy workplace or supporting workers back to the workplace following potential psychological or physical injury, contact our Mentally Healthy Workplaces Consultant or our Employer Education Advisor or phone ReturnToWorkSA on 13 18 55.
ReturnToWorkSA would like to thank the emergency services, volunteers and South Australian communities for their dedicated response to the fires in and around the State over the past few weeks.