Funding plan to help quake stress victims

17:45, Feb 07 2014

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 international research suggested the timeframe for psychological recovery was 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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