Health care experts from Australia and Israel discussed on Monday some of the mental health consequences of COVID-19 and the practical ways to support one another through this crisis.

Women and children have been disproportionately impacted by the fallout from COVID, according to Prof Jayashri Kulkarni.

Prof Kulkarni, who is an expert in women’s mental health, said her research pointed to a 12-fold increase in domestic violence incidents in Australia since the first lockdown period, with similar results in other corners of the globe.

Lead clinical advisor at Beyond Blue Dr Grant Blashki said common sense is important during a time where many people’s lives have been turned upside down. Small things like keeping a routine, getting enough sleep, and limiting alcohol intake can help to keep on top of your mental health.

Dr Blashki, who is a practicing GP, said he is seeing many people who had never thought about their mental health before suddenly finding themselves out of a job, having a hard time coping, and “feeling like they’ve been side-swiped by a truck”.

There is not a "one size fits all" approach to safeguarding mental health, according to child and adolescent psychiatrist Professor Esti Galili-Weisstub. Prof Galili-Weisstub said listening to one another and doing an occasional “reality check” can help us understand different people’s needs during the pandemic.

Dr Inbal Reuveni, head of Hadassah’s women’s mental health clinic, said many new mothers and pregnant women are suffering due to a lack of social support available during the lockdown. She said new mothers in particular are finding it hard to stay at home to care for their newborns without the support of their extended family and friends.

The event was moderated by the chair of the HAMRC scientific advisory committee Dr Russell Basser.

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