Community consultation shows COVID-19 impacts worse for some, but not all

With much of Australia under lockdown or restrictions, Healthy North Coast is reminding people of potential impacts on mental health and how to deal with pandemic pitfalls.

Healthy North Coast delivers the Australian Government’s PHN program from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie and inland. The organisation recently partnered with 89 Degrees East to conduct a short online community consultation that attracted more than 1,000 respondents.

The survey responses showed the impact of lockdowns, isolation and social distancing on families, communities, friends and workplaces was a clear source of anxiety and loss for many.

Pleasingly though, a significant number of respondents reported their situations were unchanged, while a smaller percentage had even seen improvements, proving the old adage that every dark cloud has a silver lining.

69% reported their physical health stayed the same or improved, while the financial position of 73% was unchanged or better. On the work front, 69% said their situation was the same or better than before.

COVID-19 has had the greatest impact on connections with family and friends, with 63% rating them worse than before COVID and just 10% noting an improvement. Similarly, when asked about their lifestyle, 53% rated it worse, 34% said there was no change and 14% reported an improvement.

50% of respondents said their mental health was unchanged, 7% said it was better, but 43% reported a decline.

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Julie Sturgess said familiar threads were woven through many responses from across the region.

‘People had a desire to travel and attend live music events,’ Ms Sturgess said. ‘They missed the liberties and freedoms once taken for granted and looked forward to having them restored. They also hoped for economic and social recovery.

‘COVID has affected us all in different ways but it’s heartening to see not everyone has suffered. I encourage those who are doing it toughest to seek support.’

When people were asked in the survey what they most looked forward to, typical comments included:

‘Freedom. To make personal choices and not have to check a government website to find out what is ok.’

‘Freedom to travel, attend concerts, hug my friends, see ageing parents.’

‘Seeing the hospitality, tourism and entertainment sectors recover as they have been a vital source of employment, especially for young people.’

The small daily annoyances grated on many, like one person who wrote: ‘I can’t wait to walk into work and not need my temperature checked.’

And a sentiment echoed by many: ‘Looking forward to improved health outcomes for all peoples of the world and those who have experienced COVID-19.’

Ms Sturgess said mental health support was just a phone call or a mouse click away. One of the services she recommends is Connect to Wellbeing.

‘Anyone young or old can find themselves in need of some help and guidance,’ she said. ‘Connect to Wellbeing offers a single point of contact to connect you with the right mental health support, information or a service that best suits your need.

‘Trained staff can provide you with information about, or referral to, the service that’s most appropriate for you. This includes any one of the many mental health, alcohol and other drugs, or NDIS support services located across the North Coast.’

To get in touch with Connect to Wellbeing, call 1300 160 339, Monday to Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm, or email [email protected]. For more information and to find out about available support, visit Connect to Wellbeing North Coast.

Ms Sturgess said there are things we can all do to contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing. These include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, avoiding excessive use of alcohol or other drugs, eating a balanced diet, and maintaining social relationships.

Healthy North Coast funds Connect to Wellbeing through the North Coast PHN program. It is not a crisis service. For immediate 24/7 support contact:

  • Mental Health Access Line 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 
  • Kids Helpline (for children under 12 years) 1800 551 800 
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • Open Arms (Veterans & Families Counselling) 1800 011 046
  • Mensline Australia 1300 789 978

In an emergency call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Contact for media enquiries

Zoe Satherley (Mon-Wed)

Phone: 0428 623 093

Mike Hely (Wed-Fri)

Phone: 0437 978 473

Get our newsletter and events straight to your inbox. Subscribe Today

Update provided 21 April 2022.

As you know, Lismore Skin Clinic in Molesworth Street was destroyed in the recent floods, and we are trying to rebuild the site as soon as we can.

In the meantime we will be moving to St Vincent’s Hospital Specialist Medical Centre – Level 4, Suite 12 – 20 Dalley Street Lismore.

We hope to be up and running in the next two weeks (by early to mid May 2022) and our receptionists will soon begin calling our patients to rebook their appointments and catch up with their needs.

Once we have a firm opening date we will update this notification.

Our email address – [email protected] and our phone number – 02 6621 3500 will remain the same as in the past. Only the address changes for a while.

We look forward to seeing you soon in our new premises.

Many thanks for your patience and understanding in these heartbreaking times – stay safe.

Dr Gudmundsen and the Team from Lismore Skin Clinic


Contact our Education Team

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Nigel Cronin
Senior Manager, Education
[email protected]
0437 169 786
02 6627 3390
Based on Bundjalung Country in Lismore

Bronwyn Thirkell
Centre for Healthcare Knowledge & Innovation and Education and Events Coordinator NNSW
[email protected]
0437 027 751
02 6618 5445
Based on Bundjalung Country in Ballina

Krissi Devlin
Education and Events Coordinator MNC
[email protected]
0447 407 473
02 6659 1808
Working days: Monday Thursday.
Based on Gumbaynggirr Country in Coffs Harbour

Mental Health Practitioner Directory

Frequently Asked Questions

Any AHPRA or AASW registered mental health practitioner providing services in the Mid North Coast and/or Northern NSW.

Social workers, psychotherapists and counsellors are ineligible to list in the directory.

By listing, you will let GPs, other referrers and consumers know that you are practising in Mid North Coast and/or Northern NSW. You can provide information such as where you are located, the services you provide, the population groups you support and your clinical interests.

No, the directory is a free service provided by Healthy North Coast.

This directory enables you to provide real-time information about your availability to accept referrals, as well as how long people may have to wait for an appointment. You can update this information as your availability changes. This will help GPs and other referrers ensure they only refer clients to practitioners who have the capacity to see them.

It also has a range of advanced search options and supports printing and bookmarking of search results.

You can choose to display your email address and your phone number so that people can contact you directly. You may prefer not to display these, in which case people can contact you by completing an enquiry form located in the Directory. Your choices can be updated anytime.

You can indicate wait times for an appointment for a new client or that you are currently unable to accept new referrals. You can also choose whether to display or hide your contact details. You can update your choices at any time.

Yes, you can update your listing or remove it at any time by clicking the “update practitioner details” button on your listing. You will receive a secure website link to your nominated admin email that will enable you to make changes, delete or put your listing on hold. You can also show when you are taking extended leave or are not available for a specific period, rather than completely removing your listing.

We will also send you an email every three months (90 days) prompting you to check that your information is up to date.

You will be responsible for managing the information in your listing and ensuring that it is up to date. You will also be asked to check the information before it is published in the directory.

We will also send you an email every three months (90 days) prompting you to check that your information is up to date so that the directory displays accurate information.

You can read the full Terms of Use by clicking here.