Mental health and Covid-19; riding the (second) wave

Written by Ellen Ranum

It’s pretty tough moving backwards but there are many lifelines on hand, should you wish.

Well, shit. Here we are again, New Zealand. Like many, I tried to black out the first wave of COVID-stained months from my memory and ignored the very real possibility of a second wave. Watching daily updates from the government has reignited that sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. Coupled with the flood of recycled COVID-themed memes, I’ve started to feel even worse… 

Under the façade of humour, it comes as no surprise that New Zealanders might be tugging at their collar under the heat of facing another imposed lockdown. After hearing the news of its resurgence, the most immediate thing that came to my mind was the mental health and well-being of friends and whānau. 

New Zealand’s last lockdown brought a 25 per cent increase in calls to Lifeline, up from the average 10,000 a month with many citing money and relationship issues, and accommodation instability as leaders of their distress. 

There’s a fatigue that comes with re-visiting the past. And when that past is riddled with fears of job instability, financial insecurity or a stressful living environment, many of us naturally feel nervous, angry, and upset. 

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand has released an update encouraging New Zealanders to prioritise their mental health, “Switching levels isn’t easy, we’ve heard from a lot of people who are finding it tough. It’s really important to prioritise looking after our well-being right now”. The Foundation suggests limiting your intake of news, sticking to a routine that works, learning new things, staying connected and giving to others. 

“Find what works for you and keep at it”, they say. For me, that’s digesting a limited amount of news and trying to keep those daily updates at an arm’s length away.

If I’ve learned anything throughout this nightmare of a year, it is to check in with your community as much as you can. If these restrictions carry beyond Friday, all we can do is make it a habit to support each other. Hang on to your people; we’ll see it through together. 

National helplines:

Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Lifeline — 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)

Suicide Crisis Helpline — 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Healthline — 0800 611 116

Samaritans — 0800 726 666

What’s Up — online chat or 0800 9428 787 (0800 WHATSUP)

Youthline — 0800 376 633, free text 234, email or webchat

The Lowdown — 0800 111 757, free text 5626, email or webchat

Kidsline — 0800 54 37 54 (0800 KIDSLINE) for young people up to 18 years of age

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