A mental health expert has identified anger as a primary response from regional Victorians as they move towards a return to stage three COVID-19 restrictions.
Monash University professor Jayashri Kulkarni said somewhat unexpectedly, anger has been one of the biggest responses from community members as she explores the mental health impacts of a return to lockdown.
"I didn't expect the angry response, I expected a more depressed or anxious response," she said.
"What we're seeing is a hell of a lot of anger. This is different from the first phase of lockdown, which we primarily saw fear as the major emotion being felt. Fear was the predominant fear causing anxiety.
"It's really quite incredible... there's been a very big expression of anger in lots of kinds of ways. When looking at mental health, it's very critical that at this point there is a lot of anger. Whether that turns into the cause of hostility, depression, we're not sure."
When looking at the different ways anger is being expressed, she pointed towards large-scale anti-mask, anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne, as well as small scale confrontations between individuals and businesses enforcing the government's mandatory mask policy.
Looking at Ballarat's response to the return to lockdown, she said an angry response has been exhibited by those who feel as though they are being punished for metropolitan Melbourne's mistakes.
"We've seen a lot of anger from the rural sector who have been saying "this is Melbourne's problem, why are we being dragged into it?" she continued.
"Last time when we entered lockdown, there was a sense of unknown as well as a sense of unity and togetherness because it was something most of Australia was going through together. There was almost pride in standing together and saying "Victoria is doing so much better than overseas."
"Now, there is a sense that things are worse the second time around because things were just tolerable before, we thought we'd seen the worst of it and now here it is again."
As people return to their homes for stage three restrictions, Ms Kulkarni identified post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a real danger for some, as memories of their struggles earlier in the year could lead to a significant mental blow.
"There are a lot of different dynamics at play that do have a significant impact on mental health.
"There is an aspect of PTSD coming into play. The second time around, PTSD can arise because people fear what was terrible about the first lockdown."
If you are suffering from mental health issues, you are not alone. Contact one of the many mental health agencies listed:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au
- Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467
- Mensline: 1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au
- Survivors of Suicide: 0449 913 535
- Relationships Australia: 1800 050 321
- headspace Ballarat (for 12-25s and parent support): 5304 4777
- Soldier On: 1300 620 380
- Ballarat Community Health: 5338 4500
- QLife: 1800 184 527 (Support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people)
- Family violence: 1800 RESPECTVeterans support: If you or someone you know needs support call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 - 24 hours a day, seven days a week or visit www.openarms.gov.au
- For Aboriginal crisis support: Yarning SafeNStrong, 1800 959 563 (noon to 10pm)