‘You’re not alone’, PM Ardern tells lockdown nation on mental health

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield (background) at today's covid-19 briefing ... "It's OK to feel overwhelmed." Image: RNZ/Pool/NZME

RNZ News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke at today’s 1pm press conference about the importance of mental health and support services in the community during New Zealand’s delta covid-19 outbreak.

“Having positive cases in our communities, along with the impact of lockdowns I know can be hugely unsettling, and that uncertainty can impact on everyone’s mental health,” she said.

“It’s OK to feel overwhelmed, to feel upset or even to feel frustrated, because this situation is often all of those things. But there are places you can go for support and help, even while you’re living with restrictions.”

The Ministry of Health and Unite Against Covid websites have a list of resources, Ardern said.

“These include tools targeted at young people, who may be finding this time challenging, in particular those isolating in hostels or halls of residence.”

Calls to health services and use of online services have risen during lockdown.

“We know for instance that early on in the lockdown there was a spike in calls to Youthline,” Ardern said, and the government has since boosted their funding by $275,000.

Extra $1m for community health projects
An additional $1 million in funding was announced today by Health Minister Andrew Little for community projects to support youth mental health in Auckland and Northland.

Ardern listed several different helplines available (see full RNZ list).

“There is also targeted mental health support available to Pacific Communities via a dedicated 0800 number: 0800 OLA LELEI 0800-652-535,” Ardern said.

Episodes of family violence have been reported during lockdown around the country.

“Family violence and sexual violence services are considered essential services and are continuing to operate at level 4,” Ardern said.

“If you feel you’re in an unsafe environment, you do not need to stay in your home or in your bubble. If you’re not safe at home you can leave your bubble. If you feel in danger, call 111.

“If you or someone you know is in danger and it is not safe to talk, police have the silent solution, phone 111 and if you do not speak you’ll get the option of pressing 55, you can then listen carefully to the call-taker’s questions and instructions so they can arrange assistance for you.”

Central Auckland on Wednesday 25 August 2021 on the eighth today of a Covid-19 lockdown.
Central Auckland on Day 8 of the lockdown. Image: John Edens/RNZ

There is also support for those struggling to access food.

“Yesterday we announced an additional $7 million for food security networks operating at alert level 4. The additional funding will help with the distribution of an additional 60,000 food parcels, and 10,000 wellbeing packs,” Ardern said.

83 community cases
There have been 83 new community cases of covid-19 reported in New Zealand today.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said 82 of the new cases are in Auckland, with one new case in Wellington. The Wellington case was a close contact of an existing case, and was in isolation with no exposure in the community while infectious.

Dr Bloomfield said 34 people are now in New Zealand hospitals with the coronavirus, including two people in ICU. All are in a stable condition.

Three of those cases are in North Shore Hospital, 18 in Middlemore Hospital, 13 in Auckland City Hospital, while one is in Wellington Regional Hospital. Dr Bloomfield said the hospitalisation rate in this outbreak is 6-7 percent which is higher than previous outbreaks.

The total number of confirmed cases associated with the Auckland outbreak is now 511 – 496 in Auckland and 15 in Wellington.

Dr Bloomfield said more than 60 percent of cases are under 30.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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