Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: ProCare Health
Tāmaki Makaurau’s primary mental health and wellbeing service, Fresh Minds, expects tsunami of referrals from GPs for people experiencing mental health challenges as the city moves back down the alert levels and the stresses and strains of lockdown take their toll on everyone from young people through to seniors.
In the month following the 2020 lockdown, Fresh Minds had a 24% increase in the number of referrals to it’s psychology service, including a significant increase in the number of young people seeking psychology support through its schools based health service, and expects the same to happen again this year as Auckland emerges from strict lockdowns.
“We know that distress in our communities is significant during and following lockdowns. We have already seen the severity of people’s anxiety symptoms vastly increased”, says psychologist and Fresh Minds General Manager, Tania Wilson.
Fresh Minds has continued to provide psychology support to its clients throughout the lockdown with therapists conducting appointments via phone and video call. Although virtual support during the lockdown has been a lifeline for some there are others who find it difficult as they may have an overcrowded house or children at home, so finding a quite space to talk with their psychologist can be challenging.
Ms Wilson comments “We’re seen an increase in clients who have worries about money, employment issues and they’re concerned about how they can afford even the most basic necessities such as food. There are also stories of large families all together in one house where tension and conflict may be high, and the other extreme where those living alone are feeling really isolated and lonely.”
Fresh Minds clinician’s also report that for some people sport plays a really important role in mental wellbeing. Psychologist Dr Balveer Sikh said “I have several clients for whom sport and rigorous physical activity play a crucial part in their mental wellbeing. Team sports in particular provide a physical outlet as well as social connection. Not having access to these activities really affects peoples wellbeing with some people needing to increase medication to deal with low mood.”
“With each new lockdown we have seen the level of distress increase and the number of people needing support escalate, we are expecting the demand on our service in the three months up to Christmas will be really high and we are preparing for this.”
Tania Wilson concludes, we acknowledge that lockdowns are a necessary public health measure to control the spread of COVID-19 in our communities but the level of mental distress they cause should never be overlooked and there will need to be significant funding, collaboration between providers and commitment from the Government to ensure people are supported to recover from the long tail of pandemic related stress and anxiety.
Fresh Minds is offering a free online ‘Introduction to Managing Anxiety’ webinar, hosted live by a Fresh Minds therapist, to learn simple tools and techniques for managing the symptoms of anxiety. People can register for free.
Free Introduction to Managing Anxiety Live Webinar, by Fresh Minds
When: Monday 4 Oct, 2021, 1.00 – 2.00pm
Topic: Managing anxiety
Fresh Minds is a social enterprise which for the past 18 years has been providing mind, mood and wellbeing programmes which are backed by clinical expertise and empathy. As part of the ProCare group Fresh Minds provides psychology support services to over 8,000 people each year in Tāmaki Makaurau. Services are provided for individuals both in-person and online and in a variety of settings including Fresh Minds centres, schools, the community and in General Practice. Fresh Minds, as a ProCare service, is supported by comprehensive clinical governance, expertise and rigorous systems to ensure the support is of the highest quality. www.freshminds.co.nz