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Addiction Practitioners Give Government Initiatives The Thumbs Up

Addiction practitioners say fresh government initiatives that support health and disability workers like themselves during COVID-19 are timely and very welcome.

“Unfortunately, the economic impact and downstream effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of many in our society are just becoming apparent and are likely to go on for a long time.

Many people in New Zealand are struggling and using more substances or other addictive distractions to cope with isolation and stress, and people with addictions are particularly vulnerable. They need well supported professionals to help them now more than ever,” says the Executive Director of Dapaanz (Addiction Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa New Zealand), Sue Paton.

Ms Paton, who was reacting to Tuesday’s announcement by the Minister of Health of an accommodation fund, a phone counselling service and a clinical advice number for health and disability workers during COVID-19, says that any support at this time is appreciated.

“Many front line workers in addiction treatment facilities will benefit from the new accommodation fund because it will give them the option of staying away from their homes during COVID-19 to protect vulnerable people living with them.

Up to now many of these dedicated professionals have been in the unenviable position of having to balance the needs of their clients with their responsibility to keep vulnerable whānau members safe from this virus. Now they can do both safely without the extra stress of juggling conflicting responsibilities,” she says.

Ms Paton is, however, concerned that this funding, which will be allocated at the discretion of the District Health Boards, gets to all the addiction workers who need it.

“I will be in regular contact with Daapanz members throughout the country to ensure that, no matter where they are working, they will get the support this government initiative entitles them to.”

She added that the phone counselling service for health staff who need extra mental health support during this stressful time and the COVID-19 clinical advice line are just the kind of services addiction practitioners need to ensure they are in the best personal and professional position to help those who need their support through this challenging time.

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