29 Aug 2021

‘You are not alone’ - Ardern on mental health in lockdown

8:02 pm on 29 August 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke at today's 1pm press conference about the importance of mental health and support services in the community during New Zealand's Delta Covid-19 outbreak.

POOL -  Prime Minister Jacinda Arder during the Covid-19 response and vaccine update with director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield at Parliament, Wellington, on day 12 of the alert level 4 lockdown.  29 August, 2021  NZ Herald photograph by Mark Mitchell

Photo: Pool / NZME

"Having positive cases in our communities, along with the impact of lockdowns I know can be hugely unsettling, and that uncertainty can impact on everyone's mental health," she said.

"It's OK to feel overwhelmed, to feel upset or even to feel frustrated, because this situation is often all of those things. But there are places you can go for support and help, even while you're living with restrictions."

The Ministry of Health and Unite Against Covid websites have a list of resources, Ardern said.

"These include tools targeted at young people, who may be finding this time challenging, in particular those isolating in hostels or halls of residence."

Calls to health services and use of online services have risen during lockdown.

"We know for instance that early on in the lockdown there was a spike in calls to Youthline," Ardern said, and the government has since boosted their funding by $275,000.

An additional $1 million in funding was announced today by Health Minister Andrew Little for community projects to support youth mental health in Auckland and Northland.

Ardern listed several different helplines available (see list at the end of this article).

"There is also targeted mental health support available to Pacific Communities via a dedicated 0800 number: 0800 OLA LELEI 0800-652-535," Ardern said.

Episodes of family violence have been reported during lockdown around the country.

"Family violence and sexual violence services are considered essential services and are continuing to operate at level 4," Ardern said.

"If you feel you're in an unsafe environment, you do not need to stay in your home or in your bubble. If you're not safe at home you can leave your bubble. If you feel in danger, call 111.

"If you or someone you know is in danger and it is not safe to talk, police have the silent solution, phone 111 and if you do not speak you'll get the option of pressing 55, you can then listen carefully to the call-taker's questions and instructions so they can arrange assistance for you."

Central Auckland on Wednesday 25 August 2021 on the eighth today of a Covid-19 lockdown.

Photo: RNZ / John Edens

There is also support for those struggling to access food.

"Yesterday we announced an additional $7 million for food security networks operating at alert level 4. The additional funding will help with the distribution of an additional 60,000 food parcels, and 10,000 wellbeing packs," Ardern said.

"If you're unable to afford food, call MSD on 0800 559-009 to see if you're eligible for assistance, or to be connected to other forms of assistance that is available.

"If you're at home isolating or having problems accessing food, you can ask family, friends, neighbours if they can help deliver food for you. Deliveries should be contactless and kept local. For those in self-isolation, or who have no other way to access food, the student volunteer army also has a grocery delivery service, visit www.shop.sva.org.nz"

Ardern said the government is continuing to support those needing emergency housing during lockdown. Since lockdown began more motel units have been contracted and they are closely monitoring the need.

The three Auckland metro DHBs are vaccinating those who are homeless by a range of mechanisms, she said.

These include Auckland City Mission's mobile outreach team, and taking transport to temporary housing to enable people to reach vaccination centres.

Ardern encouraged anyone who's worried about their mental health or in urgent need of aid to contact the appropriate services for help.

"You are not alone, we are all in this together and support really is just a phone call away," Ardern said.

"Please do make use of these services, they're there to support you."

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

OUTLine: 0800 688 5463 

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Sexual Violence

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

Empowerment Trust

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): be 04 801 6655 - 0

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334.

Mosaic - Tiaki Tangata Peer support for males who have experienced trauma and sexual abuse: 0800 94 22 94

Family Violence

Women's Refuge: (0800 733 843)

It's Not OK (0800 456 450)

Shine: 0508 744 633

Victim Support: 0800 650 654

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): be 04 801 6655 - 0

The National Network of Family Violence Services NZ has information on specialist family violence agencies.

Help with alcohol and drugs

Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797

Drug Help website

  • Covid-19 lockdown: Looking after mental health during the pandemic
  • Huge uptake in digital mental health services during lockdown - NZHIT
  • $1m fast-tracked to help youth mental health in lockdown
  • Covid-19 lockdown day 12: How it unfolded