While the long term community impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be fully realised, the impact it is already having on our collective mental health has placed added pressure on existing support services.
Since the nationwide lockdown began, Lifeline has experienced a consistent 25% increase on the usual 10,500 inbound calls they already facilitate each month. On May 4 alone, Lifeline fielded 493 calls and 782 text messages - thought 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, and Lifeline estimates that it will require an additional 2,300 hours to continue to support the influx over the next six months.
To help service the growing mental health demand in New Zealand, we’ve teamed up with nib to provide $150,000 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 will go a long way, allowing 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 since the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions were enforced, which can place increased stressed on an individual.
By enabling an extra 2,300 hours of crisis support estimated to be an additional requirement over the coming months, as well as training support, we hope to provide the necessary support needed to help New Zealanders cope during COVID-19 and beyond.