Quake-hit Cantabrians still struggling

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 11:14 17/06/2014
The Unsettling Nature of Unsettled Claims
All Right?
The Unsettling Nature of Unsettled Claims

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Cantabrians are still tired, grieving and struggling to come to terms with all that has been lost since the February 2011 earthquake, research shows.

International post-disaster studies highlight the third year of recovery as one of the most challenging for communities, and a Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) survey shows the region is following the trend.

The "sobering" results showed many people were still struggling to cope, with those battling to settle their insurance claims significantly worse off, CDHB All Right? manager Sue Turner said.

The survey of 800 residents, conducted by Opinions Market Research in February and March this year, found that life had become a lot harder for many residents since 2012, when a similar survey was carried out.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they were still grieving for what had been lost in Christchurch, and 65 per cent reported feeling tired, a 10 per cent increase from 2012.

Almost half said they were still "struggling to come to terms with all that has happened" as a result of the quakes.

Those still waiting to have their insurance claims settled were struggling the most, the research showed.

Almost 50 per cent of those still waiting to settle their claims felt life was full of uncertainty, compared with 28 per cent of those who had settled.

Forty-five per cent of respondents who were waiting to settle felt stressed and frustrated, compared with 32 per cent of those who had settled.

"Delays in settling claims are clearly having an impact on Cantabrians' wellbeing," Turner said.

CDHB chief executive David Meates said the health of Cantabrians had been "well and truly put to the test over the last three and a half years".

"Nowhere is that more evident than in mental health services," he said.

Psychiatric emergency services had been hit with a 35 per cent increase of new patients since 2011, and the board's child and youth community mental health services had fielded a 40 per cent increase.

About 400 patients needed emergency psychiatric treatment every month, Meates said.

"Those presenting to mental health services are just the tip of the iceberg," he said.

"As All Right's research shows, many in our community are bogged down and struggling with recovery-related issues such as dealing with broken homes, insurance claims, poor roading and the loss of community facilities.

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"All of this is having a big impact on people's health, with one-third of those surveyed saying they have more health issues now than they did before the earthquakes."

The CDHB All Right? project was launched in February last year to help Cantabrians recover from the psychosocial effects of the quakes.

- The Press

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