New Zealand mental health crisis as Covid stretches a struggling system

Health workers and older people among those bearing brunt of added pressure brought by coronavirus

New Zealanders are experiencing more depression and anxiety since the coronavirus lockdown, doctors say, despite the country leading the world in its battle against the pandemic.

New Zealand has been lauded for its effective management of the virus, with most Kiwis returning to their normal routines following a strict seven-week lockdown in April and May. A recent outbreak in Auckland has now largely been contained.

But GPs working on the front line say “generalised anxiety” is proliferating in the community, and putting a strain on mental health services that are already overburdened.

Dr Bryan Betty, the medical director of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, said cases of depression and anxiety have risen “substantively” in the wake of the lockdown, and there was anecdotal evidence that more prescriptions were being issued for anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. Sleep problems have also been widely reported. […]


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