The invisible wounds of a natural disaster

The wildfires in Eastern Attica continue to affect the community, causing mental trauma to those who survived the disaster.

Dialekti Angeli
Dialekti Angeli NewsMavens, Greece
invisible wounds of a natural disaster - NewsMavens
Fire by the Lake, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The tragedy in Eastern Attica did not stop when the last fire burned out. A great natural disaster like a wildfire affects all members of the community, causing mental trauma of varying intensity to each individual.

Firstly, trauma will affect those people who were directly exposed to the danger themselves or their loved ones, second, it affects the rescuers and all those who have been called upon to control the destruction, those who help the people in need or record the events and finally those who learn about the disaster, indirectly, through media or conversations. 

In addition to those directly affected by the disaster, rescuers, firefighters, solidarity volunteers, and even journalists can be in need of psychological support.

Experts advise them to observe themselves and if they experience any symptoms, to ask for help.

Seeking care through interpersonal relationships and any collective action is extremely helpful. Solidarity, for example, is a feedback feeling: it is indispensable for those directly affected, but at the same time it is extremely relieving for those who participate as volunteers in similar actions.

Children especially -- including teenagers -- are extremely vulnerable to crisis situations. We must keep in mind that children do not perceive the situations in the same way as adults, but they experience post-traumatic stress just like adults.

Details from the story:

  • A group of people is in a state of crisis while there are still factors that affect their health and welfare.
  • The crisis does not end when the immediate danger stops but it remains to a certain extent until people return to their regularity.
  • Managing post-traumatic emotions is not a simple matter. The victims need direct psychosocial support on multiple levels.
  • In natural disasters, mourning comes after the first period of shock. It is a time-consuming process that requires care and intervention with a centrally-managed medium to long-term support plan.
  • The community plays a very important role in times of disaster. People must feel that their experience are not unique and that they can share it with someone who can understands it.
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