TEU fears Christchurch mental health funding cuts

Posted By TEU on Feb 18, 2016 |

Tertiary Update Vol 19 No 5

“I was in a garden centre when Sunday’s earthquake hit and everybody froze,” says TEU organiser Gabrielle Moore.

“As soon as it stopped everyone ran straight for the car park, to their cars, their phones and their families.”

“I was sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t do anything and that feeling of distress did not leave all day.”

Moore and  Cindy Doull, another Canterbury-based TEU organiser say that the stress and pressure that people in Christchurch are feeling, five years after the killer earthquake that hit the city, is immeasurable.

Both organisers are fearful of what could happen as the Canterbury District Health Board faces up to massive cuts to its mental health budget. They are calling on Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee to restore funding to the city’s mental health services.

“People’s resilience is exhausted. Even small events trigger massive anxiety,” says Doull.

Doull and Moore say TEU members come to see them with employment issues that previously would have been small and manageable, but now are ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’.

Moore says the support networks that people would rely on are also suffering the same stress. Lecturers and tutors who support students are not only overwhelmed by the need for their help but also have their own personal problems to overcome.

People looking for counsellors can wait three months for an appointment and the counsellors are burning out from all the unexpected clients, not to mention facing the same pressures and anxieties themselves.

Doull says people’s tolerance levels are down and they are not as easily able to let things go because they are dealing with too many other pressures, not least of which is post-traumatic stress.

In addition to the post-traumatic stress from the earthquakes many staff  have been and are dealing with numerous change proposals and restructuring which has a compounding effect on their ability to cope.

“There is a long way to go yet before people have recovered,” says Doull.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Whistleblowers protected by academic freedom
  2. Unitec staff fear restructuring may cause falling roll
  3. Don’t sell costly degrees, fix low incomes
  4. How do we measure vocational education?

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