Practical information to help you care for yourself and others after a disasters and emergencies, including ways to get financial support.

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.

Emotional and mental wellbeing support

Psychological first aid

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.

  • Wash your hands, boil water if necessary.
  • Try and get some good sleep.
  • Use reliable information sources.


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.

  • Tell yourself what you are feeling. Feeling angry, anxious, or worried are all normal reactions. It’s perfectly normal to feel like this in an extreme situation. 
  • Don’t overload yourself with news.
  • Give yourself time out. 


We’re all social beings. Social support, sustained attachment to loved ones and social groups is of central importance in combating stress and trauma.

  • Keep connected with the people who are important to you in whatever way you can.
  • Look after anyone that needs help, if it’s safe for you.
  • Being with you community and volunteering time to assist others.


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.

  • Control the things that you can control.  
  • Plan your day or individual tasks. 
  • Keep to a routine as best you can. 


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: 

  • It’s not going to be like this forever. 
  • Be kind to yourself and others. 
  • Set realistic expectations. 

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,
    chat online at  
  • 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.

Help online

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.

Household, rural and business support

Temporary housing 

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. 

Temporary Accommodation Service

Household costs

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. 

Urgent costs – Work and Income

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.

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

Support and information for businesses

The government’s website has information and advice about: 

  • looking after your employees
  • operating safely
  • insurance claims
  • finance and banking
  • landlord and building responsibilities.

Extreme weather: Information for businesses –

If you have COVID-19

Remember, if you test positive it’s recommended that you self-isolate for at least five days, or longer if you still have symptoms and/or are testing positive. If you need to evacuate, tell people you have COVID-19.

Find out about COVID-19 symptoms, testing, isolation, masks and what to do if you test positive