Mental Health & Addiction COVID-19 Update - 12 August 2020

on 13 August


Mental Health & Addiciton update

Kia ora whānau

Robyn Shearer, Deputy Director-General, Mental Health & Addiction.

You will all know by now that the Auckland Region is now at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2 as we have four cases of COVID-19 from an unknown source.

As you will remember from earlier in our COVID-19 response, things can move and change very quickly. We will check in with you often and keep you as up to date as we can.

The good news is that we have planned for the eventuality of COVID-19 appearing in our community and have now activated our resurgence plan.

The health system is well prepared for this – the focus now is preventing the virus from spreading in our community.

There are some small things that we can do to keep ourselves and others safe, which helps us have a small but important sense of control:

  • Stay home if you’re sick, wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow and clean surfaces often.
  • If you have cold or flu like symptoms call your GP or Healthline free on 0800 358 5453.
  • Everyone should wear a mask on public transport or where physical distancing is difficult.
  • Testing is free. If you are offered a COVID-19 test, take it.
  • Keep a record of where you have been to allow for faster contact tracing. Use the COVID tracer app to help you do this or just make a note.
  • Check in on your friends, family and whānau to make sure they are doing okay.

In addition, you'll remember that we have a psychosocial response plan, Kia Kaha, Kia Māia, Kia Ora Aotearoa: COVID-19 Psychosocial and Mental Wellbeing Recovery Plan, which will continue to guide our response and actions. We'll be providing information on steps that we're taking and things that you can do to put the plan into action as we progress over the next few days.

As delivering mental health and addiction supports are essential services, we have already sent out the Alert Level 2 and 3 guidance this morning as a reminder about any changes in how your services might be delivered. There have been no changes to the guidance since the initial Alert Levels 2 and 3. It's important to let the public know that help is still available, even if you are delivering services a little differently at the moment so please communicate with your clients and community regularly. 

If you have not done so already please activate your pandemic plan to ensure you are working at the right alert level for your organisation.

There will be more information provided as soon as possible about when PPE is required under Alert Level 2.  In the first instance, please contact your local DHB regarding supply. We will also be working closely with DHBs to ensure they are communicating with you what the requirements are and what the arrangements are for ordering. We are well stocked with PPE, as are the DHBs, and there is a distribution model in place that can be scaled-up and if there are issues the Ministry has a team in place to resolve these quickly.

I know for some of you the news of cases in the community may be unsettling. For you and your teams, there are online mental health and wellbeing information, tools and resources on the Ministry’s website:

Health Care New Zealand is also providing a free counselling service for frontline health care professionals and care workers who are seeking mental health and wellbeing support during the COVID-19 response. Health care professionals and care workers can access this confidential service by calling 0800 820 080 to make an appointment with an experienced therapist.

It's totally normal to feel a bit shaken and anxious right now. But we have a plan and we know what to do. We have done it once, and we can do it again.

Ngā mihi nui



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