Around the world, COVID-enforced isolation is having a devastating effect on people’s mental health—and Australia is no exception. A recent study by the country’s leading mental health research organisation, the Black Dog Institute, found that almost 80 percent of people aged 15 to 44 said they’d been feeling worse since the pandemic began.
For this reason, the same institute is encouraging Australians to “shape and grow” a mullet to raise money for mental health.
“I think everyone just needs a bit of relief after a heavy year,” says Evan Jackson, Senior Manager for Community Fundraising at Black Dog. The response to the campaign, he adds, has been “phenomenal."
Although Mullets for Mental Health doesn’t begin until September, some 2,000 people have already signed up for the campaign and a total of $340,000 has been raised. Those funds will go towards the early detection, prevention and treatment of common mental health disorders.
According to the Institute, suicide is the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15 to 44, with 60 percent of those reporting symptoms of mental illness reluctant to seek help.
As the uncertainty of the pandemic continues, the impact on mental health is only expected to worsen. In April alone there were an estimated 213,000 job losses among Australians aged 15 to 24, according to the Centre for Social Impact—a troubling statistic for an already vulnerable demographic.
Jackson’s advice to young people who may be experiencing difficulties is to contact their local GP for access to support services, and reach out to friends and family on a regular basis.
Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
This article originally appeared on VICE US.