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Mental Health And COVID-19

Integrity NZ calls in the NZ Government to extended preventative Mental Health services to all Kiwis

The devastating developments this week regarding community transmission of COVID-19 are already cutting deep into the mental health of all New Zealanders. Whilst the Government is stepping up the Public Health response and Opposition are focused on timing the of the upcoming election, Integrity New Zealand is calling on the Government to dig into the COVID-19 allocation now and open up free mental health services for all New Zealanders immediately.

Party Leader Helen Cartwright says “You can clearly see the building anxiety in everyone you meet – whether it’s at work, at school, or home – we’re all bracing for what’s to come, waiting for the press conferences and the new case numbers.”

“Many of our businesses owners have been scraping through, but with the wage subsidy expiring, the financial and the emotional burden is increasing for them by the hour, literally. The Government has plenty of time to come up with the plan, and we can see that swinging into action for testing and contact tracing, but I don’t see any mention of a mental health response.”

The mental health impact of lockdown has now been well documented around the world; anxiety, depression and loneliness are key factors. The World Health Organisation is predicting harmful alcohol and drug use, and incidents of self-harm or suicidal behaviour are expected to rise. The 1737 mental health hotline is being overloaded. That alone should tell us more resources are required to support our country’s well being.

Cartwright continues “There is a real, genuine threat that a mental health crisis is on the horizon for New Zealand. Our mental health system is broken, underfunded and what is available is a postcode lottery. Thanks to the first lockdown we’re all become familiar with how to run our lives online, but our wider mental health support is still being delivered as a last resort ‘band aid’ via a text service. Where is the plan? How are we going to support our people through the second wave?”

Integrity New Zealand is a newly formed party for the 2020 Election. Central to Integrity’s core values is the Māori philosophy of Hauora. “Our Kaupapa prioritizes wellbeing for all New Zealanders, and as we know only too well Mental Illness does not discriminate – it’s an issue we need to face.” says Cartwright. “Integrity wants to see Free Mental Health Services for all kiwi’s and a commitment for this to remain in place for the next two years. We’re seeing a hard and fast response again from the Government to keep the latest outbreak, under control, but it’s not just those with physical symptoms that need our help.”

New Zealand has stood strong together through the pandemic response to date. We were asked to stand together as a team of 5 million and we have. However, the emotional and mental drain on us as individuals must be acknowledged.

It is the view of Integrity New Zealand that this should warrant the availability of fully funded access to robust mental health services for all New Zealanders, to both assist with those struggling in these unique circumstances, and to remove the stigma for those who seek help.

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