Psychologists struggling as New Zealand’s mental health crisis deepens

A grim picture is emerging of the mental health of New Zealanders, two years after the country’s first lockdown.

Clinical psychologist Dr Victoria Thompson told 1News the demand for mental health help is sky-high, saying “people want more help than ever”.

“We’re doing our best but we can’t keep up with the demand and without additional help and resources to clean up the public sector, it’s going to be a long time.”

Thompson’s waiting list is currently about six months old and she’s struggling to see an end to the crisis.

“By the time you get to someone who was on your waiting list, unfortunately their mental health issues have often deteriorated and become more severe.”

“Then you have more serious sanity, which means you’re going to be working with that person a lot longer than you would have been able to if you caught them on a mild to moderate level.”

Over the past 18 months, life insurer AIA has found that Covid-19 has been linked to around 70% of mental health income protection claims, with claimants citing reduced income, delayed medical procedures and a burnout.

1News spoke to a range of people from all walks of life about how they coped with the lockdowns.

Judy Pudney, a resident of the retirement village, told 1News that residents coped with the first lockdown, the second “has gone on too long”.

Meanwhile, Annabelle Parata Vaughan, a student at the University of Otago, said that “you really miss your youth”.

“You’re stressed out about college – it’s not the same as before – but you have to go work at a grocery store to pay your rent, which has gone up due to inflation. I think it all adds up for young people.”

Parent Tania Davie, who was working from home, said “in the end, we just gave up” homeschooling her eight-year-old son, Will.

“It looks really bad, but we did it.”

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