Mental health, housing, and poverty exposed

Communities struggling to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown are the subject of a new study by the Salvation Army.

The study reports three major areas of concern seriously impacting New Zealand communities, a lack of mental health support, insecure housing and inadequate incomes.

These areas of concern are forcing people to look beyond their own backyard towards their community for support.

The State of our Communities Report paints a dire picture of how community social services are being called on to help a rising number of families and people experiencing severe social strains.

It notes this is the first time many New Zealanders have had to reach out for help following a loss of income.

During the survey, the Salvation Army interviewed 564 residents and conducted 14 interviews with key community leaders from Rotorua, Johnsonville and Queenstown.

The questions focused on mental health, housing, income/employment, under the lenses of the Covid-19 recovery and Election 2020.

All three communities raised major concerns around access to mental health services and are “crying out for a serious effort” to deal with these deficiencies, the State of our Communities Report says.

Locals are consistently reporting increased stress, anxiety and hardship, which are affecting people’s mental health.

Existing mental health issues were amplified by job losses, social isolation, lack of income and other social challenges that came with the lockdowns, highlighting the lack of mental health services.

Specific mental health issues for children and youth are also emerging from Covid-19, the survey found.

Housing affordability is the most concerning issue for Johnsonville respondents.

Over a third (38 percent) of the 141 residents interviewed have had their employment impacted due to Covid-19.

Mental health issues, inequities between locals, and challenges for the local refugee and migrant populations were also of concern.

Since Covid-19, the Johnsonville Salvation Army has seen increases in new clients to their social work, counselling and addictions services.

The numbers of addiction assessments completed by existing and new clients spiked between March and June 2020, signifying the challenges people are facing during Covid-19.

Overall, the existing housing problems in each community have magnified since the lockdowns began.

There are stories of homelessness in Rotorua and unaffordable rental or private housing, especially in Queenstown.

The report identifies employment and incomes, housing and mental health services as the most important social issues for the upcoming election 2020.


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News category: New Zealand.

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