Resources to help with mental distress after Christchurch incident

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Resources to help with mental distress after Christchurch incident

Media release from the Ministry of Health
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Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield would like to make the public aware of a resource developed to assist those experiencing mental distress as a result of the incident in Christchurch.

“The Ministry of Health and 1737 have created resources which give advice for those experiencing mental distress, including how to help and support children, and help with grief,” says Dr Bloomfield.

“After a traumatic event, for people directly involved, who have family and friends involved, who work in services that are part of the response to the event, and for the wider community, it is normal to feel distressed, and to experience symptoms of stress.”

“There are a number of symptoms people may experience. This document helps identify these and ways people can help each other and themselves. These kinds of feelings and symptoms are part of our normal reaction to a traumatic event, and for most people they pass over several days or weeks.”

“The Ministry is working to translate this document into a range of languages, and will be updating their website as and when these translations are completed.”

“It’s important for anyone in mental distress to know if you need support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - to talk it through with a trained counsellor.”

The resources are available to view here: https://www.health.govt.nz/node/9714

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Comments

We have to be careful and remember that the evidence that knee-jerk Debriefing Counselling for victims of trauma often increases PTSD and the strong advice from reviews is that this practice should cease . https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000560/media/CDSR/CD000560/CD000560_abstract.pdf

The MoH referred page "Mental health advice for coping after a traumatic event" refers one to a document titled "Coping after a traumatic event" https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/pages/coping-after-a-traumatic-event-16mar-2019.pdf which has some excellent Dos and Don'ts (including not reliving the events) but the buck stops with us when someone isn't coping "Your GP is a good starting point".  However, there is poor evidence for “counselling for mental health problems in primary care” and a 2011 Cochrane review revealed only short term improved mental health outcomes, but no long-term benefit. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21901675

We therefore have to be careful to whom we might refer someone to ensure it isn't a non-evidence based therapist wanting the patient to re-tell the trauma.