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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Emotions surfacing now, say counsellors

Emotions surfacing now, say counsellors

Last updated 13:14 24/04/2011
Christchurch counselling services are receiving a significant increase in call volumes as the emotional impact of the earthquake starts to hit home.

Lifeline's national clinical manager Melanie Ingram said raw data since the February earthquake shows that calls from Christchurch residents were higher last week by more than 100 a day.

She said those figures were expected to increase further as Cantabrians started to reflect on what they had experienced.

"We would expect to see that figure climb gradually over the next few months as people in Christchurch move from survival mode – sorting out where to get water, toilets, their work situations, clearing up properties, finding somewhere else to live etc – and move back towards some sort of routine in their lives.

"This is when the impact of what they have been through can have an emotional effect on them.

"We have taken calls from people who tell us that in the first month or so after the quake they felt they were coping quite well as they sorted their situations out, but now that they have done that they are feeling anxious and stressed as they deal with the impact of the enormity of the event."

Canterbury District Health Board member Andrew Dickerson voiced his concerns on Radio New Zealand this week.

"A whole lot of factors are coming together at this time that threaten the most vulnerable people in our community. Down here in Christchurch, particularly in the eastern suburbs, we have people living in severely damaged homes, homes made damp from the liquefaction, overcrowding conditions with many families now sharing, increasing unemployment, that general feeling of despair, and a high level of anxiety out there."

Ingram said a natural disaster was unique in that people felt they could not share their anxiety or despair with loved ones because they were in the same position.

Lifeline provides confidential telephone counselling 24/7. For emotional support phone LifeLine on 0800 543-354.

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