Government announces mental health initiatives to help Kiwis deal with Covid-19 upheaval

A “range of support” will help people look after their mental health amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Health Minister announced this morning.

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In a Ministry of Health video, grandpa George talks about how he manages 'isolation not isolated' by keeping in touch with loved ones. Source: Ministry of Health

The campaign Getting Through Together was launched today and will share ways to help New Zealanders deal with the stress of Covid-19.

Health Minister David Clark said the virus has led to uncertainty and worry about the future.

“We want people to know that they are not alone, and many Kiwis will be feeling this way,” Mr Clark said.

"This is completely normal and the messages in the campaign launched today tell us that it’s okay not to feel all right, all of the time.

"It’s important to remember that a lot of the usual places people might go to for support, like your doctor, are still available. It might just be a phone call or an online video link instead.”

A file image of actual SARS-CoV-2 - commonly known as the 2019/20 coronavirus - under an electron microscope. Source: Wikimedia Commons/NIAID-RML

The programme also gives parents tools to speak with primary-aged children about their mental health through a Sparklers at Home initiative. The original Sparklers programme was previously rolled out for young Cantabrians following the Canterbury earthquakes.

“The campaign has been developed by All Right? who produced the world-leading disaster-recovery programme following the Canterbury earthquakes, in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation," he said.

“The original Sparklers initiative has been hugely successful at supporting and promoting the wellbeing of young Cantabrians following the Canterbury earthquakes, so I’m pleased to see that this has been extended to help all Kiwi parents with their tamariki."

Further support will be announced later this week including options over telephone, apps and online resources. Specific campaigns targeting Māori, Pacific, older people, people with chronic health conditions or compromised immunity and new mothers are also being developed.

The announcement follows Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Instagram post where she called for psychologist Nigel Latta's help to spread the message about looking after your mental health during the lockdown.