Health and wellbeing

It's normal to feel upset after extreme weather events like this. 

If you need support or advice, or have feelings of anxiety, stress, prolonged fear, hopelessness or anger and need to talk with someone, you can phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.

​Healthline is staffed by experienced registered nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When to ask for extra help

Sometimes post-disaster stress can be ongoing. It can affect your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

It's time to ask for help if:

  • your sleep is badly affected
  • you feel very distressed, irritable, on edge or agitated much of the time
  • you feel hopeless, despairing, miserable or that you can't go on
  • you have trouble concentrating, are distracted and can't do your usual tasks
  • you feel your health has been affected
  • you have recurrent nightmares or intrusive thoughts about the event
  • you have new symptoms or old problems may seem to have returned (eg, breathing, heart or stomach problems).

For children; withdrawal, aggressive behaviours, difficulties at school, or problems separating from parents or going to sleep may indicate the need for help.

​Other places you could go for support 

  • Your GP;
  • Mental Health Service 0800 166 167;
  • Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor;

If you are concerned about your or someone else's immediate safety call 111.


Australian disaster recovery expert and psychologist Dr Rob Gordon​ gives his tips on post-disaster recovery.

Tips for helping your child cope

  • Explain what happened and spend time listening to how they feel.
  • Stay close with lots of hugs for reassurance.
  • Keep to a familiar routine – children feel more secure when they know what's going to happen next.
  • Get physical – exercise and active games are a great stress release for kids.
  • Encourage creativity – children can express their feelings through drawing and playing with toys, while singing and storytelling can be useful ways to calm fears.
  • Make an emergency plan if you haven't already – get your kids involved in making a plan for what to do if the situation ever happens again.
  • Don't be afraid to get help in order to ensure you are taking good care of yourself and the kids.
  • Be a role model – it's important for you to model the behaviour you want to see in your kids by remaining calm even when you're not feeling it.
  • Try to be patient – the effects on your child's behaviour could continue for some time – it's important to understand and support them.

For more information go to​

How to help friends and family

  • Make an offer of help that's genuine and practical. "How about I care for the kids to give you a break for a couple of hours?" Other helpful ideas are: organising working bees one house at a time, shared meals, play dates for the kids, making meals for the freezer.
  • Make an offer of help that lasts. "When you're ready, I'm here for you". Be prepared to provide support when asked and to go the distance. Some people will want to talk about the flood in a few months time. Be ready to listen then too.
  • Remember people know what they need and what will help them. Ask how you can help, and what they would prefer. Don't take over. People know what works best for them.
  • Ask how they want you to keep in touch. If people are feeling overwhelmed they may prefer to communicate via email. If you live far away – don't worry, a phone call can make all the difference. In fact some people prefer talking over the phone.
  • Be open to receiving help as well as giving it. 'Give and take' is a natural part of relationships. It's important to let people help in return.
Page reviewed: 30 May 2018 10:41am