Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Mental health concerns for Christchurch

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

There were a record 209,000 prescriptions for anti-depressants written to the people of Christchurch last year, and the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists has "grave concerns" for the ongoing psychological struggles of the residents of the earthquake-ravaged city.

At the organisation's annual conference over the weekend, it was concluded that the National-led Government needs to place as much emphasis on helping to rebuild the psychological health and resilience of the people of Canterbury as it did on town planning.

"The National Government is continuing to try to fix the cracks and rebuild the infrastructure of the city of Christchurch, but as an organisation we are concerned that the ongoing psychological effects cannot be papered over," association spokesman Kyle MacDonald said.

"Ongoing political and legal arguments about insurance claims and the 'rebuild' will only add to this emotional struggle."

Recent reports showed that the level of anti-depressant prescribing in Christchurch was at an all-time high, with more than 209,000 prescriptions last year - almost twice that of Auckland, despite the population difference.

Other sources suggested the number of cases of depression was up more than 30 per cent on 2011.

"It is understandable that after the pressure to simply survive starts to pass, that levels of depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder climb," Mr MacDonald said.

"It is vital that we as a nation do not simply expect people in Christchurch to 'move on'."

- APNZ

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