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Skylight Granted Essential Health Service Status In The Covid-19 Crisis

Skylight is pleased to announce it has been granted Essential Health Services status by the Ministry of Health. This is for its trauma, loss and grief support for Tamariki, Rangatahi and Whānau delivered through its tele-health and support e-pack service.

The counselling agency and resilience hub experienced 3,625 new users to its resilience hub last month, which was an increase of nearly 1,000 on the same period in 2019.

Skylight CEO Heather Henare is concerned more needs to be done to support for the long-term mental health needs.

Like Professor Peter Gluckman who said in this week’s media, New Zealand’s situation is going to get worse before it gets better with a looming recession, Henare agrees. “People are struggling to stay positive and the thought of heading into an economic recession, is going to be very tough for many.

“The Government’s response to Covid-19 has been outstanding. But we must remember it’s got to go beyond the crisis. You can have all the people in world to manage the crisis, but what happens next? They can get referred to their GP, or the overpopulated Mental Health Services’ response services.

“Organisations like Skylight fill an essential primary prevention need that allows families to work though their issues in a safe way before a major intervention is needed. It puts people in the driver’s seat and allows them the dignity of choice.

“The social isolation of Alert Levels 3 and 4 have exacerbated existing mental health problems. It has also triggered some who have past trauma, including survivors of sexual or domestic violence, those who went through the Christchurch Terrorist attack and the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes,” said Henare.

Some of the worst affected have been caregivers who have had their usual carer supports taken away. The agency has received enquiries from individuals balancing the roles of full-time work, as well as caring for sick family members and children who are exhausted and anxious, she commented.

In addition, Skylight Trust is receiving a steady stream of enquiries through its resilience hub ranging from suicide bereavement to overwhelming anxiety, stress and depression.

“We all need to be prepared to offer as much mental health support as we can in the months and year to come,” said Henare. Skylight’s resilience hub analytics showed their enquiries tripled in the first few days following the government’s Alert Level 4 Lockdown announcement.

“People were looking for direction and support and the Skylight’s tailored e-packs, as well as its new online and phone counselling has been successfully meeting demand.”

The greatest dilemma for Skylight going forward Henare says, is the ongoing struggle to secure funding for counselling services that meets the predicated increase in demand post Covid 19 beyond next financial year.

Skylight Trust runs a post-suicide evidence-based programme called WAVES. “We have been trying to secure funding through the Ministry of Health to deliver this programme through its 75 trained facilitators across the country since January.”

“Skylight is only funded to train people to deliver the WAVES programme but receives no funding to get the programme running in its communities. We can do more in this primary and prevention space,” said Henare.

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