Integrate psychological counseling with relief effort- Prof Somasundaram
[TamilNet, Thursday, 30 December 2004, 08:30 GMT]
The display of syndrome of illnesses related to disaster and intense mental compression are well known occurrences amongst people affected by natural calamity, says Prof. Daya Somasundaram, a specialist in psychiatry attached to the Mental Health Division of the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. Staff in Dr Somasundaram's group offer services to assist people affected by mental trauma due to natural calamities.
In a statement released to the press he further states that "It is an established fact going on the basis of world wide experience that in providing immediate and long term assistance to the disaster affected people and their families mental health and psychological counseling form an integral part of the Assistance programme to render it fully effective.
"In disaster situations like this we can expect that between 25-75% of the affected people to display disaster illnesses syndrome and intense compression effects.
"In a disaster situation of this kind, Traumatic condition, Inertia, Disturbed state of mind, Confusion, Intense emotional outbreaks, Tension and the like mental conditions can be seen in the affected people, which may have the duration of one hour to several days.
"The affected persons could benefit from prompt physiological First-Aid and alleviation of mental compression.
"The relief workers must necessarily provide this assistance too to the affected people in addition to the other kinds of assistance given to them.
"Feeling of loss, Mental depression, Tension, Post compression, Mental illnesses are some of the psychological problems that may occur in the aftermath of the disaster.
"This may require special intervention in the form of psychological counseling in various ways, team work, psychiatric social work which may all help solving such problems.
"On our part we are prepared to extend to the stricken people the services of our teams comprised of psychiatric counselors, psychiatric social workers and persons belonging to various other disciplines.
"They can extend their services to the affected people at Hospitals, Refugee camps Schools and other places of shelter.
"Apart from this we are also prepared to provide the necessary training on Basic Mental Health to relief workers, Health workers state officers and other officers," said the statement.