Low - Mental health recovery information for community members in metropolitan SA

For people experiencing a normal stress and grief response who would benefit from some support to help get things back on track.

Often people will recover from disasters with the support of family, friends and other natural support systems, however, some people may need additional support to help them cope.

Non-urgent mental health concerns

If you or others around you are experiencing a normal stress and grief response but would benefit from some short-term support to help get things back on track.

Psychological First Aid

Psychological First Aid is based on the understanding that people affected by disasters will experience a range of early reactions that impact on their emotional wellbeing.

Psychological First is not always available. It is most commonly used in the days and weeks following the disaster; however the time frames may vary depending on the nature and impact on the community.

Psychological First Aid aims to help people affected by a disaster by:

  • helping people to feel safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful
  • access to social and emotional support
  • reducing initial distress, meeting the more immediate needs, promoting flexible coping and encouraging adjustment
  • providing both practical and emotional support
  • providing information and links to other support services.

Depending on the nature and impact of the disaster, SA Health may engage Red Cross SA to provide Psychological First Aid and pathways to care for affected communities.

More information

Referral pathways

Red Cross SA

Telephone: (08) 8100 4500
Website: www.redcross.org.au

Psychological First Aid can be accessed via the Relief and Recovery Centres (if established).

For more information visit www.sa.gov.au/recovery or contact the Recovery Hotline on 1800 302 787.

There are also a range of telephone and online support services available. For more information visit the resources page.

If the impacts of the disaster are feeling a bit overwhelming and you need more support, it may be helpful to talk with your GP or a mental health professional.

General practitioner

Speak with your GP about any concerns that you have, as early as possible. The GP will be able to help you to complete a mental health care plan which will provide access to specialist mental health services.

To find a GP in your local area visit National Health Services Directory.

Children and young people

Children and young people exposed to disasters will react in different ways. Some will return to their usual functioning and settle back into routines within a few weeks, however, some may need extra support to cope.

It is important to be aware of changes in a child or young person’s thinking, behaviour, level of activity, physical health or emotional state so they can be linked in with supports early.

Factors that affect the length of time to recover

The impact of a traumatic event and the length of time it takes to recover will be different for every child and depends on many different factors, including:

  • the nature of the traumatic event
  • individual characteristics of the child such as their age, developmental stage and temperament
  • whether there has been significant disruption to the child’s life, or whether the child has been able to return to their usual routine
  • the impact that the event has had on the child’s main support systems and how those around them are coping.

Common reactions to a traumatic event

  • changes in their play, drawing, dreams, or conversation
  • regressive behaviour - behaving younger than they normally do
  • difficulty managing big emotions
  • wanting to stay close to a parent or caregiver
  • fear and worry about the safety of themselves and others, including pets
  • fear of separation from family members
  • clinging to parents, siblings, or teachers
  • trouble concentrating or paying attention
  • withdrawal from others
  • aggression or irritability toward parents, siblings, or friends
  • increase in physical complaints, such as headaches and stomach-aches
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • changes in appetite and eating habits
  • lack of interest in usual activities
  • increase in teens' risky behaviours, such as drinking alcohol, using substances, harming themselves, or engaging in activities that compromise their safety.

Helpful strategies

  • Calmly provide factual information about the incident and plans for ensuring their safety.
  • Encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Assure children and young people that it is normal to feel sad and upset.
  • Keep in mind that it is common for children and young people to show regressive behaviour, particularly in younger children (for example thumb-sucking and bed-wetting).
  • Encourage parents or caregivers to actively involve children in recovery processes by giving them specific chores to help them feel they are helping to restore family life.
  • Limit exposure to media coverage of the incident including on television, social media, radio, and in the newspaper.
  • Encourage parents to access supports to assist in their own recovery if needed.
  • During periods of disruption and change, children can feel more secure with structure and routine. As much as possible, maintain normal routines such as regular mealtimes and bedtimes.

Further information and support

Department for Education

Information hotline: 1800 000 279
General enquiries: (08) 8226 1000
Website: www.education.sa.gov.au

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

For support, information and links to appropriate services where there are significant concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Telephone: (08) 8161 7198
Website: www.wch.sa.gov.au

Self-help resources


beyondblue provides online and telephone-based information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.

Website: www.beyondblue.org.au
Telephone: 1300 22 4636


myCompass is free online, interactive self-help program. myCompass is designed to address mild to-moderate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression through personalised treatments delivered entirely online.

Website: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au


Lifeline provides online and telephone support and resources, including helpful fact sheets and information, and online self-help tools.

Website: www.lifeline.org.au
Telephone: 13 11 14