There is a lot of talk around mental health at the moment and rightly so.
This is a tough time for most people, far less those who were already struggling with mental health issues.
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Mental health of Kiwis under pressure over future uncertainty
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Free mental health services roll out to more districts
• Covid 19 coronavirus: If the Government cares about mental health, it needs to create jobs
• Covid-19 coronavirus: Mental health toolkit launched to help Kiwis through pandemic
And what do we already know about the mental health sector?
It was overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the amount of people it had to deal with before all this. Imagine how much worse that's going to get.
From the struggling businesses, to the financially strapped, to the strained marriages, to the scared or fearful, to the lack of self-esteem from all those who haven't been able to indulge in any social contact or family support, or even grooming or self-care.
For all the people who may snigger and call it frivolous, gyms and barber shops are an integral part of a functioning society, especially in terms of what those outlets offer mental health.
Think about it.
How much better does you tired old mum feel after an hour at the hairdresser and a fresh blow wave? How much calmer is your co-worker after he's had an hour at the barber getting a trim and venting his spleen to a captive audience? How much more relaxed are your mates after they've thrashed themselves at the gym and burned off all that excess energy or stress?
Self-care is important and helps with mental health. We get time and space, a change of scene, we feel better for the experience.
I listened to a heartbreaking call from a taxi driver as I drove into work this morning.
He said he's seeing the reality of the mental health effects every day in the back of his car.
He'd picked up a woman from a supermarket at 7.40am and, instead of carrying groceries, she only had wine.
She'd lost her job and she said she'd had her first drink that morning in 13 years - an alcoholic, sober for 13 years. Until now.
And that's before we get to the mental anguish of all those unable to see, touch, or hug, their dying loved ones.
That's something that could live with those people and haunt them forever.
How do you even begin to rationalise that?
This level system we are in, is an artificial system created by the Government, with rules made up by it, which mean hundreds of people are unable to be present for births, miscarriages, deaths, funerals. It's unimaginable.
It's not compassionate, and it certainly doesn't fit into the Government's rotating script on kindness.
We've responded very quickly to the Covid health threat. That's now contained. The more urgent health threat now is the mental one.
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.