Mental Health & Addiction Update - 12 May 2020

on 13 May

Mental Health & Addiction Update

Kia ora whānau

Robyn Shearer - DDG Mental Health & Addiction

Today is International Nurses Day. And I can’t think of many groups more deserving of our gratitude, and not just as we respond to a global pandemic. My thanks to all the nurses out there supporting our communities.

Nurses, and all the other healthcare professionals that work on the frontline, are facing more challenges than many of us at the moment as they have been breaking their bubbles every day to help those who need it. So, I’m pleased that we have been able to work alongside other Government agencies to provide additional support to frontline health workers. You can read more about these supports below.

Many of us will be looking forward to moving to Alert Level 2 on Thursday and returning to a more ‘normal’ life with school, work and socialising (in small groups!) all possible once more.
For many of us it will be a relief being able to physically reconnect with family and friends, but we also know that a change in alert levels brings with it some uncertainty, which can lead to mental distress for some. Find out more about the ways we are helping to support Kiwis with their mental wellbeing below.

As you know, my team have been working hard to rapidly develop and deliver our provisional psychosocial response plan to COVID-19. The plan is intended to help all agencies involved in planning, coordinating and delivering psychosocial interventions and mental health and addiction services during the response to COVID-19. Thank you to everyone who came back to us with feedback on the provisional plan.

I’m happy to say that we are nearly finished drafting the next iteration of our psychosocial response to COVID-19, which is all about our longer-term mental health and wellbeing recovery as we move – hopefully – from a lockdown scenario into more business as usual.

We know of course from past experience and evidence of people's psychosocial needs during a pandemic, that there can be a long ‘tail’ of distress caused by the disruption to all our lives, especially if we were already struggling to cope or have gone through job losses and all the uncertainty and financial pressure that brings.

Psychosocial distress in the face of significant change and disruption is an understandable and normal response – as I’ve been saying a lot lately – it’s okay to not be okay. Psychosocial support during an emergency is about easing the psychological, social and physical difficulties for individuals, families, whānau and communities. It is also about enhancing wellbeing and helping people to recover and adapt after their lives have been disrupted and limiting harm where ever possible. It’s this latter goal that we will be working with you in the sector to navigate and deliver on over the coming 12-18 months.

I hope to be able to share the plan with you next week.

As always, if you have any questions or queries relating to any of our work, please get in touch by emailing: NHCC_Psychosocial@health.govt.nz.

Good luck with the transition to Level 2 later this week.

Robyn

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