Expert to discuss post-lockdown stress on families at free public event

22 July 2020

We’re back in level one and counting our blessings, but what effect has the lockdown period had on our children? What do they need from us now?

  • Child playing game

UC health sciences lecturer Dr Mairin Taylor will answer these questions at Te Papa Hauora Health Precinct’s free public event “The latest on the virus, vaccine and the ongoing impacts on our community’s health and wellbeing” at Manawa this Thursday [23 July], at 5pm.

Professor David Murdoch, Dean of University of Otago, Christchurch, and Dr Josh Freeman, Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) Microbiology Clinical Director, will discuss The latest on the vaccine and controlling future outbreaks, while Alan Pithie, CDHB Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases and General Medicine and Dr Taylor will talk about The ongoing impacts of COVID 19 on our health and wellbeing.

While going into lockdown was stressful, for different people in different ways, coming out of lockdown into ‘normal life’ can be just as stressful, Dr Mairin says.

“It’s really expected especially from a psychologist’s perspective, that people would struggle to come out of lockdown, because we adapt and so we develop greater comfort with a smaller world – smaller social circles and smaller physical surroundings. Children coming out of isolation, for example, from a child cancer ward often experience this type of discomfit and now we have all experienced something similar.

“Expanding that bubble is not always comfortable. We get physically overwhelmed – we have been used to being in a cave and we have to come out again – and socially it can be a stretch.”

One of the most powerful things we can do to help our children readjust is be consistent in our parenting.

“For any stressful situation, it is important to maintain structure, maintain boundaries and maintain routine. Whenever things get rocky or difficult for the individual child or for the family system, we need to maintain all those things. Whenever we become loose or extra permissive in our parenting, which is sometimes tempting, actually that can be really frightening for a child, that can be quite destabilising, because for the child not only is the world more uncertain and weird but suddenly mum and dad are being weird as well and letting them to do all sorts of things they were not previously allowed to do. Don’t move the boundary fence – that is really important.”

Another powerful tool is modelling how we respond to difficult emotions ourselves and looking after ourselves by getting enough fresh air and exercise. “We can model the tools we use to assist our coping – being mindful that sometimes we might be a bit tired or grumpier and that’s OK as well. It’s how we resolve these emotions, how we respond to them that’s really important and we can share that with our children.”

Dr Taylor says most of our children will be OK after lockdown. Those who were already disadvantaged, however, may be more affected. “We don’t know in terms of our pandemic response, because we haven’t been through this before, but there are some indications both from previous traumatic events or disasters that those with pre-existing vulnerabilities tend to do worse,” she says. “The stress of lockdown may have added to their vulnerability load, both in terms of individual tamariki, and in terms of family systems as well. It tends to exacerbate the existing stress load of a family.”

The event is the latest in a series of free events to give the public the opportunity to hear from  COVID-19 experts and ask questions. Te Papa Hauora brings together key Canterbury organisations involved in health research and education and innovation to encourage collaboration, and improve health outcomes for our community.

Event details: The latest on the virus, vaccine and the ongoing impacts on our community’s health and wellbeing

Date & time: Thursday 23 July, 5.00 pm - 6.45pm

Location:  Foyer of the Manawa Building, 276 St Antigua Street (and online).

Register: To attend in person OR join online:

The latest on the vaccine and controlling future outbreaks

  • What is involved in developing a vaccine, when will one be developed, and how do we make sure New Zealanders get the vaccine? Presented by Professor David Murdoch, Dean of University of Otago, Christchurch, infectious disease expert and NZ advisor on the steering committee for the Oxford Vaccine Group, the British group developing a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Asymptomatic transmission, contact tracing, testing and what this all means going forward to control future outbreaks.

Presented by Dr Josh Freeman, Microbiology Clinical Director and infection prevention and control acting director for the CDHB.

 The ongoing impacts of COVID 19 on our health and wellbeing

  • What unintended health consequences (positive and negative) have emerged from our response to COVID 19?
  • What long-term impact might COVID 19 (and lockdown) have on the wellbeing of our tamariki and what learnings from other crises can we apply to support them?  What can I do for myself so that I can support my whanau?

Presented by Alan Pithie, Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases and General Medicine, CDHB.

Presented by Mairin Taylor, Registered Senior Clinical Psychologist and lecturer in Counselling in the School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury.

The event will be streamed online and also be recorded and available following the event. 

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