Significance of Mental Health Support After Disasters

Birutė Pitrėnaitė-Žilėnienė, Vilma Miglinė

Abstract


It is forecasted that in the coming decades, Europe will inevitably be affected by very important natural and social upheavals, which can significantly affect public welfare, physical and mental health disorders. That is why it is important to prepare properly. In this context, the emphasis is to be able to effectively adapt to a rapidly changing world. Because of geophysical situation changes, a target would be to create a resistant society, which would be able to neutralize any upheaval impact and timely recover from it. War, armed conflicts, natural and technological disasters have a major psychological and social impact on the affected population. After each disaster, many people experience emotional trauma. Strong emotional upheaval can be experienced not only by those directly involved in the event and/or physical trauma victims, but also by their relatives or even an event unrelated individuals.
The purpose of this article is to analyze the current scientific literature, highlight the negative impact on the mental health of the risk factors during the emergency and substantiate the necessity to plan mental health related preventive measures.
One of the most common mental health problems after a disaster is a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Various factors may increase the risk of the development of the PTSD. Social factors play a significant role among them. Psychological resistance is strongly influenced by the perception that during emergency, support to the victims will be provided not only by family, but also by the competent authority which will properly take care of the physical and psychological comfort reset. That is why the emergency plans should include not only search, rescue and other means related to saving lives and physical health, but also means related to psychosocial support services.
It is hardly possible to develop precise scenarios/prognosis of a disaster. Therefore, flexibility, regular checking and update are essential requirements for emergency management planning. Individuals who participate in actions in response to an emergency must have a clear understanding of their role. When planning a response to the disaster, it is necessary to ensure the availability of mental health services and psychosocial support to the affected communities, according to the risk factors, which influence the development of mental health disorders. Therefore, it is extremely important to create a long-term communitybased mental health care system for response during and recovery after disasters.

Keywords


mental health; disaster; post-traumatic stress disorder; risk factors; stressors; prevention

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13165/SPV-15-1-8-04

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