Financial worry due to COVID-19
As businesses big and small continue to close, the COVID-19 pandemic is naturally causing many Australians a great deal of concern. While the clear focus is on our physical health at the moment, the worry over losing our jobs and financial security will impact our mental health too. And though feelings of worry and unease can be expected following such a momentous event, it is important that we manage any stress before it turns to more severe anxiety or panic.
Got money concerns? You’re not alone
It’s cold comfort for sure, but the reality is many Australians will face some form of financial hardship over the coming months.
Many people will have lost their jobs. Many will be working reduced hours. Many will likely see a reduction in the retirement savings they rely on. Many will be struggling to make ends meet.
And because financial woes like these can significantly affect our mental wellbeing, it’s vital that we address any problems early on – and reduce any anxiety they may cause as much as possible.
Common reactions you may experience
Losing your job or financial security can trigger a number of common reactions.
You might, for example, feel a sense of loss, not only for your job but for things you had planned for the future.
You might feel angry that this has happened to you.
You might feel powerless and out of control. Or guilty that, even though none of this is your fault, you have somehow let others down.
And you might experience physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach pains, loss of appetite, or have problems getting a good night’s sleep.
Either way, if these or any other reactions begin to impact on your life, it’s important to talk to someone you trust, such as your doctor, a health care professional or any of the Useful Contacts listed here.
Here's a few simple things that may help
If you do lose your job
Try your best to stay positive. Talking to a family member or someone you trust can help you cope during this time. Sure, you’re going to face a tough time, but chances are you’ve overcome tough times in the past – utilise the skills you’ve used before.
Remember that you’re not alone. Share your feelings with any workmates who may be in the same boat.
Keep up to date with Government support
Both State and Federal Governments are providing a number of financial assistance measurements to help Australians impacted by the COVID-19 virus.
These include things like income support payments, early release of superannuation, and practical measures like not having your water or electricity turned off if you’re having trouble paying your bills. For more information about what financial supports might be available to you, visit Treasury’s dedicated page.
Check with your bank
Australia’s major banks will be allowing home loan customers to defer their home loan repayments for up to six months. If you’re having trouble repaying your mortgage, check with your bank to see how they can help.
And if you’re an employer
Remember that it’s just as important to look after yourself as well as that of your workers. You’ll likely have some very tough decisions to make that could weigh heavily on your own mental health. If this is the case, be sure to seek the help of your doctor or health care professional.
Last but not least, stay connected
Positive social connections are essential for our mental health and wellbeing and can be of particular help in times of stress.
In the current crisis, we are being asked to distance ourselves from others, so it is important that we maintain our social networks using available methods of communication.
This can be as simple as phoning a friend to share your experience, using things like Skype or FaceTime to video call a family member, or spending quality time with the people you live with.
Financial Support Services
National Debt Hotline
A not-for-profit service that helps people in Australia tackle their debt problems. They offer free, independent and confidential financial information and support provided by financial counsellors. They can also help you find other supports in your community.
Financial Counsellors Association WA
You can search your nearest financial counsellor by visiting Financial Counsellors Association WA at https://financialcounsellors.org/find-a-financial-counsellor/ and typing your post code. There are additional financial resources available in the COVID-19 section.
Emergency and Food Relief:
ERConnect is a WA online directory to help you and your family find extra help to get you through these challenging times. Search ERConnect for local food relief, emergency accommodation, assistance with overdue bills and referrals to other services and support.
The free-call Emergency Relief and Food Access Service has been set up to support you in identifying and applying for emergency relief. Contact us on 1800 979 777 from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.