A disaster is an unforeseeable event that disrupts communities in a flash. It causes loss of property, livelihood, as well as various health issues including psychological trauma. While relief operations are typically aimed at restoring economic structures, there is an increasing need for mental health first aid as disasters like cyclones, floods, bush fires, pandemics and armed-conflict are found to leave affected individuals with mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s bad enough for people to suffer losses, the least they can do to start anew is to stay emotionally resilient.
Of all people, children and young adults remain to be the most vulnerable demographic given their limited capacity to overcome emotional issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention USA, young people have the least understanding of what’s going on, thus making them feel less in control of their demise. They need adults to help them make sense of their experiences and cope in the best possible way, instead of resorting to reckless behaviors such as alcohol and drug use.
Among the things you can do to help them cope healthily are the following:
- Convince them that their fears and anxieties are normal reactions to the disaster. Assure them that it doesn’t immediately mean they’re going crazy. They’re just in a state of shock and disbelief.
- If they express feelings of guilt, assure them that the event was not their fault and that it was out of their control.
- Keep them away from physical reminders of the tragedy such as media coverage and graphic images.
- Allow children to talk about their experiences, if they want to talk but don’t force them. Answer their questions in a way that’s most understandable for them.
- Encourage play and art activities to divert their minds from the tragedy.
- Include them in minor relief initiatives such as donation drives and repacking to help them gain control over the disaster’s consequences.
There is still no better substitute for expert help. Psychologists and counselors remain as the best people to find in the advent of a mental crisis. However, if their services are not available, you can seek Mental Health First Aid from accredited professionals. MHFA providers are individuals trained to extend mental health relief exactly for crises like natural calamities, while treatment is still underway.
You, too, can be part of the team that alleviates mental suffering. You can help minimize the impacts of calamity-related trauma through tactical support in the form of Mental Health First Aid. At WHS & Training Compliance Solutions, we can help you earn an Youth MHFA certificate through a 14-hour interactive course. You can be the help young people seek in their lowest time.
You cannot predict when disasters strike, but you sure can prepare for its worst. Sign up for an MHFA course today. Call 07 5499 2406 to set an appointment.