Calls to helplines jump after Kaikoura quake

By Isaac Davison

The Kaikoura Earthquake has caused a spike in calls to mental health helplines.
The Kaikoura Earthquake has caused a spike in calls to mental health helplines.

Calls to mental health helplines have jumped by around 5 per cent in the aftermath of the Kaikoura Earthquake, the Ministry of Health says.

At a press conference this afternoon, Ministry of Health spokesman Stewart Jessamine said various helplines had received 18,778 calls in the nine days since the tremor.

"That is about 5 per cent more than the numbers received the 10 days before the earthquake.

"So there's been a small increase, a big spike in the middle, but [the helplines] are largely coping."

The total number of people seeking help was likely to be higher. Most of the calls were coming from outside the Kaikoura region, because phone and mobile coverage had been interrupted by the quake.

Jessamine said people had been calling from everywhere between Christchurch and Wellington since the Magnitude 7.8 quake last Monday.

Psychologists from the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organisations were also providing on-the-ground support in Kaikoura and surrounding regions.

"We find that the sooner we get engaged ... the better the outcome in terms of psychosocial support. This is something that is likely to roll on for some time."

He noted that some people who been badly affected by the Christchurch quakes had been re-traumatised by the Kaikoura quake.

EVACUEES OFFERED HOUSING

Temporary housing is now being offered to people affected by the tremor and its aftershocks.

So far, just a handful have applied. But a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesman said the number was likely to rise.

There was capacity in Christchurch and Blenheim to house quake evacuees. The spokesman said it would be more difficult to find homes for farmers and others who could not stay in their homes but needed to remain on the land.

Officials were looking at "bespoke" housing options for people in this category, and would not rule out putting evacuees in tents.

- NZ Herald

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