While the long term community impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be fully realised, the impact on our collective mental health has placed added pressure on existing support services.
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lifeline has experienced a consistent 25% increase on the usual 10,500 inbound calls they already facilitate each month. On 4 May 2020, Lifeline fielded 493 calls and 782 text messages which isthought to be the highest volume of enquiries in any single day in the helpline’s almost 55-year history.
Even as New Zealand comes out of isolation, inbound requests for mental health support have remained steady.
To help service the growing mental health demand in New Zealand, we teamed up with nib to provide $150,550 to Lifeline Aotearoa so they can continue to provide 24/7 mental health support to Kiwis in need.
Lifeline relies solely on donations and grants, so the support provided has allowed Lifeline to increase the hours of phone counsellors, provide additional training, supply supervision to call centre staff to maintain their own mental health and ensure they have the right capabilities in place to operate effectively.
For those who already live with anxiety or mental health problems, the normal coping strategies they usually use, such as meeting a friend, visiting a counsellor, psychologist and/or psychiatrist face-to-face, or going for a drive, have been interrupted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which can place increased stressed on an individual.
By enabling an extra 2,300 hours of crisis support, as well as training support for the counsellors, we hoped to provide the necessary support needed to help New Zealanders cope during COVID-19 and beyond.