Mental health

Traumatic events, such as tsunami, produce substantial psychological trauma to individuals and communities (Ursano et al., 1995, 2006; Lopez-Ibor, 2006; CDC, 2007). This applies to a variety of events, including not only earthquakes and tsunami, but also hurricanes, tornadoes, pandemics, and bioterrorism. In general, there are several features in common when these sudden and often unexpected events afflict a community (CDC, 2007):

1. Everyone in the disaster area is affected

2. In general, people collaborate and cooperate during and after the disaster, but their effectiveness is usually diminished

3. There are concerns about mental health during the response and recovery

4. The stress and grief reactions noted in the disaster are regarded as normal responses to an abnormal situation

5. Mental health assistance is often more important than psychological support; the emphasis here is on activities such as distributing food, listening, encouraging, reassuring and comforting, rather than intervention by mental health professionals

6. Disaster relief is often confusing, and may result in anger or a perception of helplessness in the response by governmental or non-profit agencies.

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