Moderate - Mental health recovery information for community members in metropolitan SA

People who would benefit from a period of clinical mental health support but are likely to completely recover without long-term impacts. 

If you or others around you are experiencing significant mental health impacts it may be helpful to link with services that can provide specialist mental health support for a longer period

People who may benefit from this level of support:

  • people who have a pre-existing mental health condition that has worsened a result of the impact of the disaster
  • people experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, complicated grief, anxiety or substance abuse
  • people with an increased risk of self-harm or suicide
  • people who are already linked with community mental health services
  • people whose mental health needs are not able to be met through other support services
  • people experiencing high levels of distress and anxiety most of the time which is not improving
  • people who are having difficulty engaging in normal daily activities whichis impacting on their health and wellbeing.


Adult Community Mental Health Services provide multidisciplinary care for people experiencing mental health difficulties. These services are accessible for people with diverse needs, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The type of services provided can include:

  • specialist assessment
  • specialist mental health support and treatment (including medication and other therapeutic interventions)
  • case management
  • providing support in partnership with other services
  • linking people with psychosocial support programs.

Referral pathway and services by region

For further information contact the Primary Mental Health Service in your region.

Metro North And Centre / West

Website: Sonder
Telephone: (08) 8209 0700

Metro South and Centre / East

Website: Wellbeing consortium
Telephone: (08) 8326 3591

Children and young people

Children and young people exposed to disasters will react in different ways. Some will return to their usual functioning and settle back into routines within a few weeks, however, some may need extra support to cope.

It is important to be aware of changes in a child or young person’s thinking, behaviour, level of activity, physical health or emotional state so they can be linked in with supports early.

Factors that affect the length of time to recover

The impact of a traumatic event and the length of time it takes to recover will be different for every child and depends on many different factors, including:

  • the nature of the traumatic event
  • individual characteristics of the child such as their age, developmental stage and temperament
  • whether there has been significant disruption to the child’s life, or whether the child has been able to return to their usual routine
  • the impact that the event has had on the child’s main support systems and how those around them are coping.

Common reactions to a traumatic event

  • changes in their play, drawing, dreams or conversation
  • regressive behaviour – behaving younger than they normally do
  • difficulty managing big emotions
  • wanting to stay close to a parent or caregiver
  • fear and worry about the safety of themselves and others, including pets
  • fear of separation from family members
  • clinging to parents, siblings, or teachers
  • trouble concentrating or paying attention
  • withdrawal from others
  • aggression or irritability toward parents, siblings, or friends
  • increase in physical complaints, such as headaches and stomach-aches
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • changes in appetite and eating habits
  • lack of interest in usual activities
  • increase in teens' risky behaviours, such as drinking alcohol, using substances, harming themselves, or engaging in activities that compromise their safety.

Helpful strategies

  • Calmly provide factual information about the incident and plans for ensuring their safety
  • Encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings
  • Assure children and young people that it is normal to feel sad and upset
  • Keep in mind that it is common for children and young people to show regressive behaviour, particularly in younger children (for example thumb-sucking and bed-wetting)
  • Encourage parents or caregivers to actively involve children in recovery processes by giving them specific chores to help them feel they are helping to restore family life
  • Limit exposure to media coverage of the incident including on television, social media, radio, and in the newspaper
  • Encourage parents to access supports to assist in their own recovery if needed
  • During periods of disruption and change, children can feel more secure with structure and routine. As much as possible, maintain normal routines such as regular mealtimes and bedtimes.

Further support and information

Department for Education

Information Hotline: 1800 000 279
General enquiries: (08) 8226 1000

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

For support, information and links to appropriate services where there are significant concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Telephone: (08) 8161 7198

Older people

Whilst older people may be considered more at risk during disasters, they also have many strengths that help them to prepare, cope, and help others during times of crisis, including:

  • knowledge and wisdom
  • coping skills
  • self-efficacy
  • optimism
  • previous experience
  • resourcefulness
  • community connections.

Nonetheless, following a disaster older people may experience concerns about practical issues, feel more isolated, and concerned about supporting friends and family members who have been affected. Others may experience significant distress and need more support, reassurance and help with problem solving.

Referral pathway and services by region

For further information contact the Primary Mental Health Service in your region.

Metro North and Centre / West

Website: Sonder
Telephone: (08) 8209 0700

Metro South and Centre / East

Website: Wellbeing consortium
Telephone: (08) 8326 3591

Aboriginal communities

Aboriginal people’s views of mental health and social and emotional wellbeing are very different to those of non-Aboriginal people. This means the way that Aboriginal people experience and recover from disasters can be very different.

Other referral pathways

National Indigenous Critical Response Service

The National Indigenous Critical Response Service has been funded by the Commonwealth Government to:

  • provide a critical response to support individuals, families and communities affected by traumatic events (including suicide) that is culturally responsive to their needs
  • strengthen community capacity and resilience where there have been high levels of trauma
  • better understand and respond to critical incidents and strengthen service collaboration
  • provide advocacy on behalf of families to ensure they are able to access the supports they need.

Critical Response Support Advocate

Telephone: 1800 805 801
The number is available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Aboriginal Health Services

Referrals for Social and Emotional Wellbeing support provided by Aboriginal Health Services can be made by arranging an appointment with the health clinic. Contact the relevant Aboriginal Health Service for more information.


Nunkuwarrin Yunti, Adelaide
Telephone: (08) 8406 1600

Maringga Turtpandi, Hillcrest
Telephone: (08) 7425 8900

Kanggawodli, Dudley Park
Telephone: (08) 8342 2250


Nunkuwarrin Yunti, Elizabeth Downs
Telephone: (08) 8254 5300

Muna Paiendi, Elizabeth Vale
Telephone: (08) 8182 9206


Wonggangga Turtpandi, Port Adelaide
Telephone: (08) 8240 9611


GP Plus Super Clinic 275, Noarlunga
Telephone: (08) 8384 9577

Culturally and linguistically diverse communities

Many people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds demonstrate great resilience, often having a range of experiences and skills in dealing with emergencies. They may also have some vulnerabilities which impact on their ability to prepare, copy and recover from disasters, including:

  • access to information on relief and recovery arrangements may be limited due to language and/or cultural differences
  • access to support services may be limited by language and/or cultural differences
  • people who have recently arrived in Australia may be living in an unfamiliar environment and be unaware of risks in the area such as flooding or bushfires
  • previous trauma experiences
  • potential separations from family, friends, community leaders or other support networks they would normally connect with.

Communication is an important part of keeping communities connected and informed. Making sure that people with diverse language and cultural needs have access to information and supports can help to reduce risks and help with recovery.

Referral pathway and services by region

For further information contact the Primary Mental Health Service in your region.

Metro North and Centre / West

Website: Sonder
Telephone: (08) 8209 0700

Metro South and Centre/ East

Website: Wellbeing consortium
Telephone: (08) 8326 3591

More information

Multicultural SA

Telephone: (08) 8207 0751
Website: Multicultural SA

Australian Migrant Resource Centre

Telephone: (08) 8217 9500 (Head Office)
Website:  Australian Migrant Resource Centre