Tēnā koutou members,
As Cyclone Gabrielle passes across Aotearoa, the College acknowledges the uncertainty and concerns midwives will have for their own whānau and the whānau they serve in affected areas of Te Ika a Maui | North Island. As we always do in disasters, midwives continue to provide essential services in hospitals, birthing units and the community as they also navigate the event personally.
We are aware that some midwives are or have been in areas completely cut off from communication and transport, providing unexpected home birth care or involved in triage and helicopter evacuation of hapū wāhine requiring hospital care. Midwives have been working together with other health and social services within their areas to do what they can in extreme conditions. We recognise the incredible commitment many midwives have shown during this major emergency, to ensure their communities can continue to access midwifery and maternity care.
Midwives may need support to debrief and process events which have occurred once the immediate emergency passes and we enter the recovery phase. The full scale of devastation left in the wake of the cyclone will become apparent over the coming days and weeks. The physical impacts of damage to homes and the disruption within your communities will be significant for many. The road to full recovery, both physically and mentally, will be long with a disaster of this scale. The reality of ongoing disruption to many aspects of life is a slow burn which can lead to ongoing stress in the aftermath of such events.
We have included some thoughts on the feelings that accompany disaster events such as this, and information on recognising the signs of stress – followed by some helpful contact numbers. These may be useful for discussions with your colleagues, your own whānau or to pass on to the whānau and communities you care for (thanks to Hauora Taiwhenua the Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE) for sharing these resources).
We encourage you to connect with your whānau, friends, midwifery colleagues and community. Please ask for help and seek support if you need it. Give support when you can and also care for yourself. If there is any support or help we can offer through the College’s national office, via our funded EAP service, or our regions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We can confirm that midwives’ incomes should not be impacted if they are prevented from getting to work or providing services due to flooding:
- For LMC midwives, please see the February 2023 advisory on Claiming birth fees when primary maternity service provision is impacted by flooding on Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) web page titled Updates on work with the maternity services sector.
- For employed midwives, MERAS has communicated directly with members about leave provisions if midwives cannot attend work due to childcare requirements where schools and early childhood education centres are closed, or if their route to work is cut off. Please contact MERAS if you are uncertain about what your leave entitlements are.
Understand Disaster Events
Disasters are upsetting experiences for everyone involved. The emotional toll that disaster brings can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damage and loss of home, business or personal property.
· Everyone who sees or experiences a disaster is affected by it in some way.
· It is normal to feel anxious about your own safety and that of your family and close friends.
· Profound sadness, grief and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.
· Acknowledging your feelings helps you recover.
· Focusing on your strengths and abilities helps you heal.
· Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy.
· Everyone has different needs and different ways of coping.
· It is common to want to strike back at people who have caused great pain.
Recognise Signs of Disaster-Related Stress
When adults have the following signs, they might need crisis counselling or stress management assistance:
· Difficulty communicating thoughts.
· Difficulty sleeping.
· Difficulty maintaining balance in their lives.
· Low threshold of frustration.
· Increased use of drugs/alcohol.
· Limited attention span.
· Poor work performance.
· Headaches/stomach problems.
· Tunnel vision/muffled hearing.
· Colds or flu-like symptoms.
· Disorientation or confusion.
· Difficulty concentrating.
· Reluctance to leave home.
· Depression, sadness.
· Feelings of hopelessness.
· Mood-swings and easy bouts of crying.
· Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt.
· Fear of crowds, strangers, or being alone
New Zealand Crisis Phone Numbers
- 1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor.
- Anxiety New Zealand 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
- Depression.org.nz 0800 111 757 or text 4202
- Lifeline 0800 543 354
- Mental Health Foundation 09 623 4812, click here to access its free resource and information service.
- Rural Support Trust 0800 787 254
- Samaritans 0800 726 666
- Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
- Yellow Brick Road 0800 732 825
- thelowdown.co.nz Web chat, email chat or free text 5626
- What’s Up 0800 942 8787 (for 5 to 18-year-olds). Phone counselling available Monday-Friday, noon-11pm and weekends, 3pm-11pm. Online chat is available 3pm-10pm daily.
- Youthline 0800 376 633, free text 234, email email@example.com, or find online chat and other support options here.
- If it is an emergency, click here to find the number for your local crisis assessment team.
- In a life-threatening situation, call 111.