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Mosque Attack Survivors urged to access counselling

17 July 2019

Victim Support urges Mosque Attack Survivors to access professional counselling services

With the distribution of $13.2 million in donations to the survivors of the Christchurch mosque attacks completed in June, Victim Support is working with the Canterbury District Health Board (DHB), local General Practice teams, and local counselling agencies to ensure those affected have access to the counselling they need.

Victim Support General Manager for Service Delivery, Karen McLeay, says Victim Support has already referred 106 people to professional counselling services for extended support.

“The severe impacts of both physical and mental trauma come into plain sight in the first year but can be felt for many years.

McLeay says the biggest challenge is that grief and trauma affect people in many ways.

“Impacts can include ongoing fear for one’s own safety, anxiety, anger, guilt, deep sadness, and physical symptoms such as insomnia, loss of appetite and body aches.

“Sometimes the pain is too difficult to handle. People need to know they don’t have to cope alone. Victim Support can refer people to professional counselling.

“People also need to realise that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Victim Support can provide those affected with access to up to 30 fully funded, free of charge counselling sessions with a professional, pre-approved provider. Counselling is not limited to those who received lump sum payments from the organisation. It is also available to their family members.

McLeay says there is still much to be done to support the almost 300 families impacted directly and the community more broadly. Distributing donated money for emergency and immediate needs was just the “tip of the iceberg”.

“Importantly, survivors can continue to rely on our support workers to provide emotional trauma support, that trusted person they can talk to and the person who will listen.

“Our support workers are working to help those affected become independent again through providing them with information and practical advice.

“We’re also providing dedicated support workers for those directly involved in the Court process, assistance with Victim Impact Statements and submissions to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Attack on Christchurch Mosques. Our support workers continue to work alongside Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Case Managers responsible for helping victims navigate and access Government support and services.

For people needing more specialised treatment, Canterbury DHB is working with Victim Support to ensure all providers are aware of the referral pathways.

“While the event itself was more than three months ago, we know from first-hand experience that the impacts on wellbeing and mental health will be felt for years to come. We’re in this for the long-haul and we’re committed to ensuring people have access to the support they need for as long as they need it,” says Ms McLeay.

Notes to editors:

Victim Support is New Zealand’s principal support service for crime and trauma victims, providing specialised support to help homicide victims to participate fully and fairly in the justice system as well as cope with trauma.

The organisation supports some 2000 people through the aftermath of murder, manslaughter and death by criminal act every year, a figure expected to exceed 3000 this year due to the mosque attacks.

ENDS

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