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Brown and locked down: effects of social isolation and mental health during COVID-19

There is no doubt that corona virus has affected the long term mental health of many individuals within Australia and abroad. We keep hearing all the time 'were in this together' well at least if your Victorian there's a high chance you would've heard the phrase at some point over the past few months. Corona virus has restricted our daily lives in so many ways, many businesses have had to close down, people have been made redundant in many sectors such as hospitality, events, trade, while other sectors have had to struggle with the loss in work. We haven't been able to see friends or family or do many of the normal tasks we once might have taken for granted.


For South Asians, corona virus provides additional challenges as the lack of social connections and limited reasons to leave home might create negative associations with family members especially if family dynamics are already conflicting. Earlier this month it was reported that a handful of South Asian women in Whittlesea, Melbourne had committed suicide due to social isolation and family violence. This demanded calls for more accessible, culturally appropriate support services in the area which mitigate factors before its too late. this case highlights the need for the South Asian community to priorities their mental health during the current stage four lockdown for Melbourne residents.


In the past South Asian females have likened the current stage four restrictions to the experience of being a 'brown women' living in the family home in that family always question where your going, the ability for males to leave without question, the restriction of always having to argue why you should be allowed to leave home and the constant need to message family if you are out. Though this can seem a joke, its a current reality for many people who may be living in family environments that have negative effects on individual mental health.


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It is imagined that stress levels increase during the lockdown period together with anxiety and other mental health issues. A community-based psychosocial approach should be made available on-demand as required and provided to communities during prolonged periods of isolation.


Now more than before we need to be doing more than just checking in on each other, this includes finding creative outlets to stay in touch with friends via zoom or other online platforms, making the most of the time we are allowed outside and ensuring government is held accountable for supporting our mental health during this time. South Asian families also need to give each other space and maintain communication with each other, many young people will be working and studying from home and need room to operate.



Last month the Australian government made the announcement to provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though this is much needed it neglects non citizens and permanent residents many of whom are from the South Asian community who may not be eligible for a mental health plan or psych sessions. Additional community support will be needed for the CALD community to counter the lack of government initiatives for non residents.


A recent New Zealand study found that South Asian populations are less likely to report mental health and harassment. Economic hardship, inequality, and comorbidity burden will definitely play a negative role in the mental health of this minority group. However, lack of data for the South Asian community negates to differentiate targeted psychosocial therapy.


Source: Supplied


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