Health helpline offers holiday support

THE Orange Health Service has reminded families to keep the number for the Healthdirect Australia helpline close at hand during the holiday season, while many medical services are closed.

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said callers can get health advice from a registered nurse by contacting 1800 022 222.

“It is important to stress that people with a health emergency should still call triple zero (OOO), but for other health concerns, Healthdirect Australia is the number to call at any time,” she said.

NSW families can access the Health Direct Australia service 24 hours a day from home and NSW Health is urging holidaymakers to ensure they take the number with them.

Dr Chant said the service provided reassurance to families, allowing them to get appropriate medical advice during the Christmas break.

Although many services will be closed over the holiday period, support for people experiencing anxiety, depression or stress is always available from trained staff through the Mental Health Information and Support Line.

Director of Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Services for Western NSW Local Health District, Dr Russell Roberts said the Christmas season can be a hard time for many people. 

“It is a time we associate with family and friends, so for people who are dealing with feelings of grief, or who are isolated and lonely, it can be an emotional and challenging time,” he said.

He said there were ways to improve resilience which could include getting involved in social activities such as the community Christmas lunch at the Function Centre or staying in touch with family and friends.

“Many people experience anxiety, depression or stress and this can be worsened by feelings of not wanting to burden family or friends,” he said.

“Isolation can diminish our resilience or our ability to bound back from difficult situations and usual effective coping strategies may not be working quite so well.”

He said the over consumption of alcohol by someone who is grieving or feeling lonely and isolated can exacerbate these feelings.

If you have concerns about your mental health of that of a loved one, contact the free Mental Health Information and Support Line on 1800 011 511.

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