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Victorian doctors’ plea to lift lockdown amid ‘mental health crisis’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A group of doctors has written to Victoria’s Premier, describing “disturbing” mental health concerns among school children and pleading to have lockdown eased.

A group of doctors has written to Victoria's Premier, describing "disturbing" mental health concerns among school children and pleading to have the state's lockdown eased.

The letter, signed by 10 Victorian GPs, details a number of serious mental health concerns arising as a result of the state's harsh stage four lockdown rules.

"Due to the continuing harsh lockdown, the children, young adults and new mothers I mainly treat are in anguish, despair and have no hope," Dr Stacey Harris said in the letter.

READ MORE: Follow our live blog for live updates and breaking news on COVID-19

"The purpose of this letter is to plead with you to look at what we can reopen safely. We will still protect the vulnerable and elderly and continue important public health measures of social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitisation."

The letter acknowledged the importance of lockdown measures in containing the second wave, however it said restrictions should now be focused on managing daily cases and working "to reduce the unhealthy social isolation".

In particular, the letter focused on the concerns about mental health among young children, claiming doctors have been forced to prescribe anti-depressant medication to children as young as 12.

"Seeing children as young as 12 years describe their darkest thoughts, some suicidal, is very disturbing."

READ MORE: COVID-19 survivors at risk for psychiatric disorders

The letter sites postnatal depression a "a huge concern", saying doctors have been reviving calls from "distressed" mothers facing lockdown with newborn children.

Doctors also highlighted their concerns over the decrease in patients receiving their routine checks, blood tests and immunisations for fear of leaving their house.

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"We are not diagnosing other important health conditions like cancer and heart disease, which take many Australian lives every year."

It also points out extensive delays in accessing mental health services due to a spike in demand.

"Premier Andrews, please consider revising the current Victorian roadmap to COVID normal...Striving for elimination comes at huge cost and may not even be achievable."

READ MORE: Managing disordered eating during lockdown

It recommends school returns for all children in term 4 and industries which do not pose a risk to the spread of COVID-19 should reopen to ease financial strain contributing the "mental health crisis".

"Harsh lockdowns like here in Victoria are doing more harm than good. I implore you to review this urgently to provide hope for us all."

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday pleaded with Daniel Andrews to allow all students to return to school, referencing the concerns of Victorian GPs.

"I cannot see why all students can't get back to school in Victoria now," Mr Frydenberg said.

"Not just for their educational development - because so many of those students have lost nearly a year of study, not just for their educational development in the classroom, but for their wellbeing."

READ MORE: What it's like to have OCD during a pandemic

Mr Frydenberg said he had seen letters from doctors and other health professionals, citing fears over the mental health of their young patients.

"And the number of cases they are seeing through their doors skyrocketing, providing antidepressants to kids as young as 12 and 13 as a result of this lockdown," he said.

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"So I say to the Premier follow the medical advice but please get Victorian children back to school at all levels."

As it stands, all primary school students will be back in the classroom by October 12 and no decision has been made on year 7-10.

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians. Visit the site here or call 1800512348.

For coronavirus breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-victorian-doctors-plea-to-daniel-andrews-lift-lockdown-mental-health-crisis/079858b8-51ef-4331-b7f8-a12934c31488

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