Psychologists struggling as NZ's mental health crisis worsens

Jordyn Rudd
Source: 1News

A grim picture is emerging of New Zealanders' mental health, two years on from the country's first lockdown.

Clinical psychologist Dr Victoria Thompson told 1News demand for mental health help is sky-high, saying, "people are wanting more help than ever".

"We are doing our best but we can't keep up with demand and without extra help and resources to clear the public sector, it's going to be a long time."

Thompson's wait list is currently around six months, and she's struggling to see an end to the crisis.

"By the time you get to someone who's been on your wait list, unfortunately their mental health problems have often deteriorated and become more severe."

"Then you're holding more severe mental health which means you're going to be working with that person much longer than you might've been if you caught them at mild to moderate."

Over the past 18 months, life insurer AIA's seen Covid-19 linked to around 70% of income protection claims for mental health, with claimants citing decreased income, delayed medical procedures and burnout.

1News spoke to a range of people from all walks of life on how they coped with the lockdowns.

Retirement village resident Judy Pudney told 1News while residents coped with the first lockdown, the second one "went on for too long".

Meanwhile, University of Otago student Annabelle Parata Vaughan said it felt like "you were really missing out on your youth".

"You're stressed about uni – it’s not the same as it was – but you need to go work at a grocery store to pay your rent, which has increased because of inflation. I think everything is piling on to young people."

Parent Tania Davie, who worked from home, said "in the end, we just gave up" on home-schooling her eight-year-old son, Will.

"It sounds really bad, but we did."