Most of Medical personnel during an emergency or disaster event often blinded by all the wounds and injuries and overlook the one essential part of being healthy; mental health well being. Disaster Mental Health is always being considered as the collateral damage of the disaster situation because of its nature of invisibility. Even though stress reactions immediately following a traumatic event are very common and most of the reactions will resolve within few days, it also can cause severe and long lasting reaction to trauma if the victim doesn’t cope well after the disaster crisis ends.
An event, or series of events, that causes moderate to severe stress reactions, is called a traumatic event. Traumatic event can potentially affecting those who suffer injuries or loss and can also reverberate in survivors, rescue workers, friends and relatives of victims who have been directly involved. In addition to those directly involved in the disaster, stress reaction can affect even with those not directly affected by the disaster such as those who have witnessed the event either firsthand or on television. Different people will react to traumatic event differently and highly depend on their ways of coping mechanism. Some victims even will feel that their world turns upside down after experiencing disastrous traumatic event.
As a health professional, our main objective of managing this problem is to provide general strategies for promoting mental health and resilience in disaster victims. We need to always keep in mind that it takes time for those victims to start feel better, so we need to be patient in handling these patient. We are also encouraged to referring those affected to the disaster event as survivors instead of victims. The psychological first aid is used in communicating with traumatic victims that basically encompasses of active listening and empathy. We can also try to advise them to stay busy and follow their normal routines as much as possible whilst limit their time around the sights and sounds of what happened and don’t dwell on TV, radio, or newspaper reports on the tragedy. it will only haunt their memory. Lastly, as cherry on top, eat healthy meat by carefully not to skip meal or to overeat and exercise to stay active.
Some people are at greater risk than others for developing sustained and long-term reactions to a traumatic event including disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and generalized anxiety. Factors that contribute to the risk of long-term impairment such as PTSD are listed.
- Proximity to the event. Closer exposure to actual event leads to greater risk (dose-response phenomenon).
- Multiple stressors. More stress or an accumulation of stressors may create more difficulty.
- History of trauma.Meaning of the event in relation to past stressors. A traumatic event may activate unresolved fears or frightening memories.
- Persons with chronic medical illness or psychological disorders
CDC | Disaster Mental Health