Escalating mental health issues relating to earthquake

Published: Fri 17 Dec 2010 03:03 PM
Escalating mental health issues within the earthquake affected community
The membership of Canterbury Communities’ Earthquake Recovery Network (CanCERN) are becoming increasingly concerned with the escalating mental health issues within the earthquake affected community.
Following the tragic death of Kaiapoi brother and sister, Bob and Joan Cattermole, CanCERN is pleading that agencies take a good look at what they are doing to reduce people’s stress in the aftermath of the September 4 earthquake.
“We know that neighbours are looking after each other better than they ever have but sometimes there is nothing you can do to alleviate the frustration and fear people are feeling. We can’t give them answers and we can’t give them assurances. All we can do is listen,” said CanCERN spokesperson Leanne Curtis. “The agencies should be taking a good hard look at what they are doing to alleviate the fears people have.”
CanCERN says that the Ministry of Social Development is throwing a lot of money at addressing the psycho-social needs of the Canterbury community but they are not necessarily in the right place. “The community does not know who they can go to for help and the reality is that a lot of people are feeling absolutely done in and isolated and can’t even begin to seek the support they need,” said Curtis.
CanCERN is suggesting that agencies such as EQC and insurance companies appoint people who can direct from a mental health perspective what needs to be prioritised in terms of communication and how to make it accessible.
“I can find information if I go looking for it but what about the elderly couple too afraid to leave their home in case someone demolishes it while they are out? Different people have different needs and this should be acknowledged,” said Curtis.
CanCERN is hoping that agencies will realise that lack of information is what is causing the most stress and work quickly with communities to address this issue.

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