We Must Prioritise Mental Health During COVID
Psychiatrists from all over New Zealand, have dialled in virtually to the RANZCP 2021 New Zealand Conference to discuss the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chair of Tu Te Akaaka Roa – The New Zealand National Committee, Associate Professor Susanna Every-Palmer, has reiterated the vital need for the New Zealand Government to prioritise the adequate provision of psychosocial support with similar priority to other health measures.
‘Our current and future response plans need to take due account of the psychosocial burdens of pandemics and how to mitigate them’, added Associate Professor Every-Palmer.
‘As an example, we note the New Zealand Government’s release of the Psychosocial and Mental Wellbeing Recovery Plan outlining the national approach to supporting the mental and social wellbeing in the COVID-19 recovery period.
‘Supporting the population’s psychological wellbeing spans a broad range of domains, from ensuring people have ready access to accurate information, basic necessities, and community connection at one end, through to the availability of specialist mental health services at the other end.
‘Communication campaigns are required to publicise what supports are available and how people can access them, with targeted messages for priority groups.
‘The mental health sector, which even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has been struggling under pressure in many countries including New Zealand, needs to be adequately resourced to meet the predicted increased demand.
‘Free access to high quality e-therapies and telehealth support also becomes increasingly important if people are afraid or are not allowed to leave their homes.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has provided our Government, and health sector, with a chance to reflect on the way we work and consider new approaches to health care.
‘While COVID-19 remains with us there will be continuing uncertainties: the economic, social and psychological consequences of COVID-19 will ripple out across our society.
‘These consequences will have a major impact on mental wellbeing for the entire population and we must prioritise our country’s mental health.’
To read more:
- Psychological distress, anxiety, family violence, suicidality, and wellbeing in New Zealand during the COVID-19 lockdown: A cross-sectional study.
- Psychological distress, loneliness, alcohol use and suicidality in New Zealanders with mental illness during a strict COVID-19 lockdown
For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.