As Health Carer Workers (HCWs) we are anxious about spreading the infection to our families and the people we live with. On top of that, our friends & families are worried about us because we face an increased risk.

It is an important time to have conversations that explore the risks and share decision making.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Start the conversation.

Factual information- Risk for HCWs

There are things we can do to reduce risks at home

And remember:  The main goal of social isolation is to slow the speed of spread (to flatten the curve) so we don’t overwhelm our hospitals. That way, when we get sick we get first-rate care. It is inevitable that some of us, whether HCWs or not, will get infected.

Apart from avoiding infection, the next best thing we can do to ensure we all recover is to ensure our health care system works and for that to work, we need to stand together – HCWs, our families, our communities

The risks are less if we stand together.

The majority of this article was written by the Centre for Disease Control & Prevention in the USA (CDC). Links and phone numbers have been adapted for Australia, and some information has been changed to adapt to Australian circumstances.

Stress and Coping

The outbreak of COronaVIrus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) will be stressful for most people. Fear and anxiety about the unknown, especially a new disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.  How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, there are lots of options:

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include

People with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Contact your GP or mental health clinician if you have questions.

Existing data indicates that we should expect an increase in family violence due to the pandemic.  Family violence risk factors include confinement in the home, financial uncertainty and unemployment. Contact:  Safe Steps 1800 015 188

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Things you can do to support yourself

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

For further information from Beyondblue

Reduce stress in yourself and others

Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful. Check out these basic facts about COVID.

When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

For parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include

There are many things you can do to support your child

Learn more about talking to kids about COVID-19 from the Royal Children's Hospital

For responders

Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during emergency response (note, this is a US site, & whilst the support advice is excellent, the phone numbers are not relevant for Australians. When we have an Australian equivalent, we will update this information).

For people who have been released from quarantine & self-isolation

Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine. Some feelings include:

Tips to deal with the stress of self-isolation

Self-isolation heightens loneliness and can cause stress, fear, and worry.

Here are some quick tips to cope:

If you feel at any point that your emotional well-being is a risk, remember:

Or any of the national helplines – all available here