The devastating effects of disasters can have tremendous psychological impacts on those directly and indirectly. Affected individuals may have various stress reactions that present psychological, as well as physical symptoms.
However, there are steps that individuals can take for themselves and their families to mitigate and lessen the mental health impact felt by the community. After an event has passed, it is important to:
Keep informed about new information and developments, but avoid overexposure to news rebroadcasts of the events. Be sure to use credible information sources to avoid speculation and rumors.
Take control of what you can. If possible, stay out of heavily damaged areas that will cause you unnecessary stress and anxiety.
If you feel anxious, angry or depressed, you are not alone. Talk to friends, family or colleagues who likely are experiencing the same feelings.
Keep an open dialogue with children regarding their fears of danger and the disaster. Let them know that in time, the tragedy will pass. Don’t minimize the danger, but talk about your ability to cope with tragedy and get through the ordeal.
Seek help if feelings of anxiety and depression continue, even after order has been restored, or if these feelings begin to overwhelm you.
Talking to Children about Disasters
Disaster Psychiatry: Information for mental health professionals.