Fear of coronavirus putting pressure on mental health services

Coronavirus may put added strain on our already-struggling mental health services.

Healthline is fielding a large number of calls from people who aren't sick, and virus-related anxiety may stretch already full psychology clinics.

Panic-buying toilet paper, the financial markets melting down - and now widespread travel restrictions put in place. Coronavirus is understandably causing a lot of anxiety.

Advice on how to deal with coronavirus anxiety is all over the internet now. Even the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Harvard have posted help on how to cope.

"It's okay to feel a mild level of anxiety," Victoria University psychology clinic manager Dr Dougal Sutherland says.

It is, after all, a global pandemic. But there are a few things you can do to help yourself.

Top of the list - limit how much coronavirus-related media you read or watch.

"It's all over the place all the time," Dr Sutherland says.

"You probably don't need to be watching it all the time so just protecting yourself like that and keeping up your normal healthy habits.

"Getting out there, exercising, socialising as much as possible, doing all the things that keep you well."

But for some, it may feel like the virus is taking over.

"Might be that you're washing your hands so much that you start to get really cracked and sore hands," Dr Sutherland says.

"Also not being able to sleep, lying awake at night thinking over and over about the coronavirus."

Clinics are expecting to see more people with those kinds of symptoms as the pandemic continues.

"It's quite likely that we will be seeing parents and children and adults that are seeking help more frequently," Dr Sutherland says.

And with the uncertainty around COVID-19 set to continue for months, mental health services will become more important than ever.

Where to find help and support: