Caring for yourself and others
Practical information to help you care for yourself and others after a disaster or emergency such as this year’s severe weather events.
On this page:
For funding or financial support following Cyclone Gabrielle or the other January and February severe weather events, visit our page on ways to get funding support.
Adrenaline may help you get through the first few hours after an emergency or disaster. But it doesn’t last long and can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Psychological first aid can help.
Our people are trained to apply psychosocial support principles, including developing strategies to help those around us to cope with impacts of disasters.
It’s important to know most affected people will experience some level of distress and everyone in a disaster can benefit from some form of psychosocial support. Effective psychosocial interventions promote safety, calm, connectedness, self-efficacy, and hope.
Five essential elements
There are five essential elements to help reduce distress after going through a traumatic event – developed from evidence-based research. Utilising each element helps people adapt, cope, and recover.
This is your physical, psychological, and perceived safety. It includes providing an environment where people feel their physical safety is no longer threatened.
Some anxiety is a normal and healthy response following traumatic events.
This is a normal response to an abnormal situation. To help with calming yourself, develop strategies to manage stress and identify your reactions.
We’re all social beings. Social support, sustained attachment to loved ones and social groups is of central importance in combating stress and trauma.
Self-efficacy is the belief your actions are likely to lead to positive outcomes through thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Essentially, making you feel like you can achieve something.
Being realistically optimistic means you’re likely to experience more positive outcomes following trauma.
A few things to keep in mind to help increase your level of hope:
Our five elements are adapted from the five essential principles of post-disaster psychosocial care, Hobfoll et al. 2007.
Caring for kids
There are many things we can do to support children through stressful events. Give them time to react and process, while being available to answer their questions. Listen to them to find out what they understand, or think has happened about the situation, and provide age-appropriate information.
Communicating your own reactions may also help to reassure and normalise your child’s response. Let them know that it’s okay to be scared and upset, but that you will all work together to get through this.
After an emergency, there may be many changes to your child’s expected routine. Encourage them to spend time with their friends and family doing fun things. Remind them that it’s important to keep talking about the way they are feeling.
Help over the phone
- Need to talk? – Call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
- Youthline – Call 0800 376 633, text 234, email email@example.com, or go to youthline.co.nz for an online chat.
- The Depression Helpline – Call 0800 111 757 or text 4202 to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions.
- The Lowdown – Text 5626 for support to help young people recognise and understand depression or anxiety.
- Healthline – Call 0800 611 116 for health advice and information.
- Alcohol Drug Helpline – Call 0800 787 797 to speak with a trained counsellor.
It’s normal to feel anxious or stressed in times of difficulty. Here are online tools and information to support your own and others’ mental wellbeing, plus where to get help if you need it.
Train to support others
Anyone can provide emotional support but it’s helpful to train so you can confidently assist people during and after crises. Psychological First Aid is a vital part of emergency response and recovery. You can gain skills and practical training by attending one of our courses in your area.
- Free mental health training for emergency-affected communities
- Enquire about a mental health course
- Recovery Matters Workshop information
- Hastings Psychological First Aid courses
The government’s Temporary Accommodation Service helps households affected by a natural disaster to find safe, secure and accessible temporary accommodation while their home is repaired or rebuilt.
If you're struggling to meet your living costs, or get an unexpected bill, Work and Income might be able to help you, even if you have a job.
Emergency benefit - Work and Income
If you can't support yourself and don't qualify for any other payment, you may be able to get the Emergency Benefit.
Rural Support Trusts
A local Rural Support Trust (RST) is a great place to access free and confidential support and advice. This nationwide network, run by local people, helps farming families and rural communities.
RSTs have facilitators trained to recognise issues with mental health and wellbeing. They can also put you in touch with services including health information or financial support.
You can give them a call to talk through your options. Call 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP) to arrange a free and confidential chat at a place that suits you, or visit rural-support.org.nz
Support and information for businesses
The government’s business.govt.nz website has information and advice about:
- looking after your employees
- operating safely
- insurance claims
- finance and banking
- landlord and building responsibilities.
If you have COVID-19
Remember, if you test positive, you need to isolate for seven days. If you need to evacuate, tell people you have COVID-19.
Each region has different support for medical care. Check your region to see who you should contact, and when they’re available, on the COVID-19 Health Hub website.
Regional health support – COVID-19 Health Hub
If you and your whānau need extra support while self-isolating with COVID-19, Work and Income may be able to help. You’ll need to fill in an online form about your needs: