New research shows signs some Cantabrians are now coping better with the psychological impact of the earthquakes and their related stressors, although there are still areas of major concern.
The research was commissioned to inform the All Right? wellbeing campaign, a Healthy Christchurch project led by the Mental Health Foundation and the Canterbury District Health Board. It was undertaken by Opinions Market Research in November 2014 and included interviews and surveys with nearly a thousand people in Christchurch, the Waimakariri and Selwyn.
All Right? Manager Sue Turner says there are some positive results.
"There's been a drop in the number of Cantabrians who are worrying about another big earthquake, fewer say they're struggling to cope with all that's happened as a result of the earthquakes and more feel connected to greater Christchurch. Those are good signs of psychosocial recovery."
Fewer respondents reported worrying about another big earthquake happening than in 2012 (45% in November 2014, 54% in November 2012).
Fewer respondents were struggling to deal with things that have happened as a result of the earthquakes than in 2012 (27% in November 2014, 46% in November 2012).
Fewer respondents 'agreed' that they were tired of waiting for authorities or companies to fix their home than in 2012 (29% in November 2014, 42% in November 2012).
More respondents felt connected to greater Christchurch than in 2012 (54% in November 2014, 46% in November 2012).
More respondents reported giving time to helping others regularly (43% in November 2014, 36% November 2012).
However, Sue Turner says the region's psychosocial recovery is still facing some big challenges. "There is evidence the much talked about housing crisis is worsening with the research finding a growing number of people are finding it difficult to find somewhere appropriate to live. That's now sitting at 15% compared with 11% in November 2012."
69% of those All Right? surveyed in 2012 had an insurance claim that was unsettled – that number has now dropped to 29%.
Public Health Specialist for the Canterbury District Health Board and All Right? Steering Group member Dr Lucy D'Aeth says clearly progress has been made but a major area of concern is for the mental health and wellbeing of those with unsettled insurance and EQC claims.
She says 29% of the research's respondents fell into this category and revealed that life is tougher for them than it is for those with settled claims.
"There are expected findings…such as those with unsettled claims being more likely to report that their current living situation is getting them down and that life is worse than before the quakes. But there are also some sad and perhaps-‐unexpected findings like the fact they report more health issues, argue with their partner more and experience more financial problems."
Be struggling to deal with things that have happened as a result of the earthquakes (47% not settled, compared to 18% settled).
Report their current living situation was getting them down (44% not settled, compared to 9% settled).
Be tired of waiting for authorities or companies to fix their home (69% not settled, compared to 14% settled).
Report that life was much worse than before the earthquakes (63% not settled, compared to 27% settled).
Report more health issues (46% not settled, compared to 32% settled).
Report that they argued with their partner more than before the earthquakes (19% not settled, compared to 9% settled).
Experience more financial problems (39% not settled, compared to 18% settled).
Be grieving more for what we have lost of Christchurch (74% not settled, compared to 51% settled).
Dr D'Aeth says the research shows just how hard it is to have an unsettled claim.
"Clearly the challenges go beyond living in a broken house. Unsettled claims are impacting on people's physical and mental health, relationships and finances."
Dr D'Aeth says All Right? shares its research with EQC, the Insurance Council and other authorities.
"It is wonderful to see that many Cantabrians are faring better and their psychosocial recovery is well underway. What we need now is for those people to continue to support others who're still languishing."
"As individuals we can't fix their problems but there are lots of little things we can do to help give them a boost…things like going out for coffee, catching up for a walk, picking some flowers from our garden or a phone call to check they're all right."
"It's all about ensuring we don't permanently become a tale of two cities and that all our people recover from the devastating effects the earthquake has had too."
A summary of All Right research findings (PDF, 120kb)
Jo ScottCommunications Adviser, All Rightfirstname.lastname@example.org or 021 883 123
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