ONE way to find a puncture in a tyre is to submerge it in water and watch where the bubbles emerge. Similarly, the all-encompassing pandemic has revealed dire needs across our society by amplifying the pressure and exposing gaps.
In the Hunter it is becoming abundantly clear that mental health is an area where such pressure has become significant, particularly around private psychology services. The cruelty is that, according to some of the region's providers of these essential services, the need has grown alongside the strain.
"Many people who have struggled in the past are struggling again at the moment," Dr Kathy Dynon, a clinical psychologist and co-director of Psychology One at Kotara, said. "And some people are struggling for the first time with that sense of uncertainty about their life and the future.
Health care workers, adolescents and those in financial or relationship stress are among those bravely seeking out the support they need in these uncertain times. This tension is certainly no reason to go it alone when services including Lifeline, Beyond Blue and mindgym.com.au offer immediate ports of call for those facing their own storms.
While mental health is an area that has long sought greater emphasis from government funding and support, the need has never been clearer.
Extending the availability of telehealth services due to expire in September are an obvious way the region's psychologists say the burden can be eased. Given they are on the front lines of offering help to those who need it, their advice deserves serious consideration if leaders are genuinely invested in meeting the needs of the community.
While priorities compete and resources tighten as the COVID-19 era goes on, now is the moment for governments to show they take mental health seriously.
Simply put, more places to support those who require it are crucial. Hunter Primary Care's Katrina Delamothe said their demand had risen slightly but it was always strong.
"There are very, very few services that are free. And that's our brief - to be able to see people who otherwise couldn't afford to get care," Ms Delamothe said.
Few could in good faith argue that the health system has not responded admirably to the primary threat of coronavirus itself, but as the second wave continues to break the ripples behind it will begin to make themselves more and more felt.
With the federal government beginning to wind down its enormous JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs, there is likely more uncertainty and strain ahead.
What is certain, however, is that there is help available and a sector eager to ensure that those who need it can access the support that they require. It is time to listen to them, resource them and seal the cracks in a system that has the genuine potential to improve and save lives. The pressure is on.
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