AMA calls for focus on mental health during recovery from COVID-19

7 May 2020

The AMA is calling for a renewed and expanded focus on the resilience and mental health of the population as Australia begins to emerge from the health and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that the community will need more resources to improve resilience and deal with the widespread impact that the COVID-19 virus and the strong physical distancing measures have had on individuals throughout the crisis. 

“The unprecedented nature of the pandemic and the control measures have affected people in different ways – from anxiety and uncertainty to more serious issues that involve people moving into the formal mental health system,” Dr Bartone said. 

“For some people, it will take some time to get over the trauma of this pandemic. We must be ready with the expert mental health care and resources to help people get back to a position of normality in their everyday lives. 

Dr Bartone emphasised that it is normal to have anxieties and concerns in these extraordinary circumstances, and that for many patients, their GP can provide the appropriate care and advice.  

The AMA is concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on people’s mental health and wellbeing across the age range, and whether the mental health sector is equipped to cater for anticipated increased demand for services. 

“Due to decades of under-resourcing and under-staffing, public mental healthcare services were struggling to deliver accessible and high-quality care before the COVID-19 crisis,” Dr Bartone said. 

Dr Bartone praised the work of dedicated public and private mental healthcare services and practitioners that have continued to provide the best care they can, within these constraints, during the crisis. He cautioned that as the medium and long-term social and economic disruptions caused by the pandemic unfold, pressure on all mental health service providers will grow. 

“Many health professionals, including GPs, psychiatrists, and emergency physicians are seeing significant growth in the number of patients seeking treatment and support for their mental health, Dr Bartone said. 

Read the full media release here