COVID-19 learnings can support communities recovering from Cyclone Gabrielle

Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic can help support the mental health and wellbeing of communities recovering from Cyclone Gabrielle. This is according to today’s Te Hiringa Mahara – the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission report, Supporting wellbeing after a crisis

“Crises like the pandemic have shown us that re-establishing and strengthening the social infrastructure that supports connection and communities is key to supporting wellbeing,” says Te Hiringa Mahara Chief Executive Karen Orsborn.  

“We can expect rates of distress and addiction to increase, and the support people need will be required for some time. We will need an immediate investment in local mental health and addiction services, which must not have a time limit on availability for people who need them.  

“Social infrastructure should be prioritised – this includes ensuring local social hubs, such as marae and libraries, are up and running; putting face-to-face supports such as carer and social worker visits in place; opening schools; and ensuring the community services and volunteers reaching into communities are supported.” 

Te Hiringa Mahara welcomes recent funding and support announced for local communities and marae. Investing in and re-establishing social infrastructure will help re-establish a sense of community and enough resilience to mitigate many of the worst mental health, addiction, and wellbeing effects of any future crises.  It will also provide a safety net for some of our most vulnerable. 

“To help impacted communities during and beyond the recovery, we call on the government to continue to work with iwi and community organisations; to prioritise investment in re-building social infrastructure and digital connectivity; to build service capability and capacity with a focus on long-term primary and community options; and to keep watch on the most disadvantaged and impacted communities over the short, medium, and long term. 

“Only by actively involving and empowering those who experience disadvantage, can we ensure a fair recovery for all.”