Call for lockdown ‘buddy’ system

Hobsons Bay Psychology's Michelle Gopold. Photo: Damjan Janevski 213387_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

An Altona North family-owned-and-operated psychology clinic inundated with clients says Victorians could benefit from New Zealand’s buddy system during lockdown.

Hobsons Bay Psychology owner and clinical psychologist, Michelle Gopold, says the practise didn’t have enough psychologists for the current number of referrals.

She said although the lockdown was needed, it had resulted in people struggling more with their mental health.

“With the current lockdown and the restrictions, the social supports and other coping mechanisms that involve getting out of the house are taken away,” Ms Gopold said.

She said New Zealand’s buddy system, which had allowed a person living alone to visit one other residence during its lockdown, was a strategy the state government should look at.

“I actually think that would be a fantastic idea – to allow one person to see another person – because we know that one of the biggest protective factors in mental health is that social connection and that social support,” Ms Gopold said.

“Often there’s more of a risk of an increase in suicide when someone’s feeling that they don’t have anyone, that there is no one out there, that they don’t have that connection and they don’t have that face-to-face contact.

“From a mental health point of view, I think that would be a very healthy strategy because it helps mitigate that risk a little bit if you are able to have one person over.

“There is a mental health crisis at the moment. Our clinic is inundated with referrals and we just cannot find psychologists to help meet the demand.

“That’s not just with our clinic I know it’s Melbourne-wide at the moment, that people are really struggling.”

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