Plan to relieve quake stress

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 12:35 07/02/2014
Professor Sir Peter Gluckman
John Kirk-Anderson/Fairfax NZ
QUAKE STRESS AID: Professor Sir Peter Gluckman identified the need for a psychological recovery plan.

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Cabinet will soon consider backing a new plan to help Cantabrians deal with post-earthquake mental health and relationship issues, which experts say emerge three years on from a disaster.

The expected Government sign-off will happen just days before the third anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake - about the time international literature predicts mental health and relationship issues surface.

The Greater Christchurch Strategic Psychosocial Plan has been devised by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) to identify what priorities and actions are needed to address the mental health wellbeing of Cantabrians still dealing with issues three years on.

The need for a plan was identified by the prime minister's chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, in 2011. He said it would help people who needed some basic support and also to address more seriously affected people.

He said research suggested the timeframe for psychological recovery was at least five to 10 years.

"After two years, many people and communities are only beginning to enter the window where recovery meaningfully begins."

The plan cited the example of the Kobe earthquake in Japan where mental health issues were still prevalent five years after the 1995 disaster.

A Cera spokeswoman said "engagement with the community" would start once Cabinet had approved the plan and some associated funding.

Canterbury district councils are being briefed on the plan and other organisations will also be included.
Any groups interested in contributing to the plan can contact info@cera.govt.nz.

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