As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across Australia, we know that the coming weeks and months will be tough and full of uncertainty for many of us. In times like this, we feel that it is more important than ever that we respond as a community and do what we can to help one another. Now is the time for solidarity and to come together with love and compassion.

We want to assure you that while understandably many of our planned events in the areas we work in have been cancelled or postponed at the directive of our community partners, we will still be going ahead with any planned small community events as long as organisations and businesses are happy to push forward. Of course, we will be taking into consideration all necessary hygiene and distancing precautions in order to prevent the spread, as well as keeping up to date with current directives from health professionals and state & federal governments.

Meanwhile, HALT will be working more innovatively and smarter than ever to ensure that we do our bit to keep up our presence in the communities we work in. We feel that it is even more important that we are available to the community in whatever form that takes in order to ensure they feel empowered to get mental health support should they need it. All HALT staff have been given the option to work from home going forward, particularly as we see more and more closures and cancellations of events through our communities. We know that increasingly this will be the way forward for many of us.

We understand that the fear of the virus for many can become all-consuming as we are regularly updated on the latest developments from various media sources. Many may be experiencing feelings of helplessness and despair however we want to reiterate that taking care of our mental health is still just as important as it was before this pandemic hit the world. In fact, the impact of this pandemic can cause people many additional stresses and concerns, meaning our communities may need us more than ever.

There are plenty of unknowns in these times, however, here are some of the things we do know:

• Most tradies will still be working and will likely continue to do so despite the current health crisis, due to financial necessity. We understand that there is a lot to weigh up at the moment in terms of protecting our health and our finances and that this may cause additional emotional stress for our tradies.

• Loneliness and isolation can be a trigger for anxiety and depression and many people in the community are going to miss social connection. We encourage people to connect in other ways and take care of themselves by keeping active physically and mentally and taking this time to slow down and do the things that make them feel fulfilled. The Five Ways to Wellbeing is a great resource with ideas on how people can take care of their mental health.

• There is a lot of misinformation out there. It is important to ensure that any information we share with others in relation to the virus is evidence-based. Check your sources!

HALT is here for the long haul. We are being as adaptive and flexible as we can be. The health of our workers and the communities we serve matter to us. As such, we respect businesses that cancel planned events, however during this time we can also offer one or all of the following options to your business, club or organisation:

1) Telephone, Skype/Zoom meetings or conferences to speak to your staff or members remotely.

2) We will be ready to visit your business, club or organisation in the near future, when life returns to normal.

3) Businesses, clubs and organisations can reach out to HALT for materials and information packs to share with their staff or members. All local materials can be dropped off on site if safe or allowed. Otherwise, support materials can be made available by email or posted out to you.

• Doctors and psychologists are also adapting to new ways of working so that they can continue to support people’s health. Many are now providing online and phone services.

Lifeline, Mensline, Suicide Callback Service, Headspace and other help lines are still active and can be accessed anytime you or your colleagues, friends or family require support.

We thank you for your continued support of HALT and for considering the health and wellbeing of those around you. We can all make a positive difference, and if there is anything we can learn from the current global situation it’s that caring for the vulnerable and being there for our mates is absolutely paramount to our wellbeing.

For any additional information please get in touch or contact the HALT Founder/CEO Jeremy Forbes. Phone: 0409 756 274 or email: jeremy@halt.org.au