Galumalemana Latafale Auva’a, 26, is an aspiring public sector professional. She left home in Auckland and moved down to Wellington in February this year. It was a career move as part of a graduate programme for one of the major government agencies. She was just settling into her new job and new environment when the Covid-19 pandemic eventually hit New Zealand. This had an impact on her new role and like all government departments there was an immediate response to unite and mobilise resources to face this global crisis.
“When lockdown hit, I stopped doing my normal work which, I had just figured out how to do,” she laughs.
“I’m now working across different parts of the organisation, being designated with other grads to areas that address the current Covid 19 crisis”
She admits her workdays and hours have been long with graveyard shifts but she’s learnt to adapt quickly to the needs of the organisation and understands that this is a short to mid-term situation.
Auva’a explains how looking on the bright-side has helped her remain positive with the changes of her role, and that working through a world-first pandemic has been an eye opener.
“It’s quite surreal because coming to Wellington for a new job was initially the extent of the lifestyle change, I had envisioned and then Covid 19 hit and all normality went out the window! However, it’s given me the opportunity to build resilience and deal with any situation as professionally as I can”.
Pasifika Medical Association member and Wellington based GP, Dr Alvin Mitikulena has seen first-hand how the lockdown has impacted young professionals and students who have come into the clinic with feelings of anxiety.
“What I’m just seeing now which, is the tip of the iceberg, is young people starting to present feelings of anxiety and some are showing signs of being depressed. Covid-19 has caused a lot of upheaval for our youth particularly around education and employment and that has flow on effects with their mental health”.
He says whatever situation a young professional or student may be in, it’s crucial for them to know how to manage their mental health and wellbeing.
“The important thing for our young people to understand is not to be hard on themselves, what they are feeling… nervousness, anxiety, it’s all normal – especially at a big time of change. But you need to keep your communication lines open. Have a few designated people you can trust and confide in and tell them how your feeling during this time. It can be your cousin, your GP, church minister. You can also call the free Healthline or in Wellington we have a counselling service called Piki¾it’s targeted at young people and is an avenue for them to share thoughts and feelings. Young people shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help”.
“Simple things you can also do every day to help with mental health and well-being is to exercise regularly and eat healthier options with your daily meals.”
Date: Wednesday 6 May 2020