THE lingering effects of COVID-19 and a 'fatigue' with the virus has led more people to reach out for mental health support now, than at the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Principal psychologist and executive manager at Centacare New England North West, Josie Hofman, said the layered trauma of bushfires, drought and COVID has heightened stress levels for all kinds of people across the region.
"The effect of the pandemic has been really significant as we are still seeing the aftermath of it," she said.
"Even though people now have access to socialise more and interact more, they have become accustomed to being more socially isolated than they used to be, and it's about adjusting to that."
Ms Hofman said there had been both a surge in people reaching out for help, and in current clients asking for more appointments.
Although the service is trying their best, Ms Hofman said the need is simply more than local services can offer.
"The reality is, we've had combined trauma in our community, we have the aftermath of COVID, but we also have the aftermath of drought and we also have the aftermath of the fires," she said. "We are a mentally resilient community, but we have had significant trauma."
Mental Health Month runs through October, with World Mental Health Day falling on Saturday, October 10.
Ms Hofman said campaigns like these help to shine a light on issues around mental health that are too often kept in the dark.
Although the COVID crisis has been tough for everyone, Ms Hofman said there are some upsides.
"While there's been a high demand of services, it's a good sign that people are more confident to reach out and ask for help," she said.
Ms Hofman reminded everyone to look out for their own health and nurture their minds.
"Let's use what we've got, let's pick up the phone and communicate as friends and family ... so people feel connected," she said. "It's really important during this time that we look after our own health, making sure we're eating well, keeping hydrated, maintaining walking outside and getting fresh air."
She said things like walking groups are a great way to socialise while moving.