Govt to put millions toward Kaikōura mental health

7:33 am on 9 December 2016

The government is to pay $1.76 million to address mental health demands in Kaikōura and Marlborough, following the recent earthquakes.

A red stickered house in Kaikōura

A red-stickered house in Kaikōura Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The funding is part of a $3.76m support package announced by Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman this morning, with $2m of the package to be spent on Kaikōura's new health centre.

Dr Coleman said the one-year support package would offer immediate assistance while a longer-term, wider psychosocial recovery response was being considered.

He said people could feel stressed and anxious for long time after a serious earthquake, and the psychosocial recovery needs of the communities would change over the coming months and years.

The Kaikōura package included the $2m for the new health centre, $810,000 for six additional health practitioners, and $35,000 for the provision of free GP visits for residents of Kaikōura and free or discounted GP visits for many people in Hurunui at the discretion of their GP.

The extra staff would include two health navigators, an extra psychologist, and an extra counsellor for one year, as well as an extra mental health clinician and an older persons' health clinician for six months.

In Marlborough, $500,000 would provide free GP visits for residents of Ward, Seddon and rural eastern Marlborough for six months, an extra health navigator and a mental health clinician for a year and an All Right? campaign promoter.

With the re-routing State Highway 1 putting increased demand on northern areas, $400,000 would also be spent on three additional health practitioners to assist Nelson Marlborough DHB.

Dr Coleman also released new guidelines aimed at services offering support for communities affected by an emergency like an earthquake.

The framework included guidelines on planning and preparedness, assessment of needs, programme development and implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

The Joint Centre for Disaster Research, based at Massey University, worked with the health sector to review the previous Principles for Psychosocial Support in light of recent emergencies since the Canterbury Earthquakes.

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