Whether flash flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes or cyclones, the scale of people witnessing catastrophic environmental events means that there is often an urgent need for psychological aid in the aftermath and in the months and years after the initial event.
Distress behaviours can often slip under the radar, especially in the rush to rebuild and resume normalcy. The underlying concern is as society moves forward, those needing psychosocial support will eventually be left behind as initial aid dries up.
Our research focuses on the role of psychological first aid (PFA) in mitigating these distress behaviours among displaced communities and exposure to retraumatisinf events and chronic anxiety affects long-term recovery. We approach our research through a prevention lens, meaning that we are ultimately moving to create better mechanisms for disaster mental health in communities frequently exposed to extreme natural disasters and those of past disasters who are still in need of mental health services. This will include studying the impact of delayed disaster relief on people’s ability to adopt coping mechanisms, with particular interest on Puerto Rico, Katrina and Haiti.
Alongside our partners, we will further measure the risks of trans-generational trauma. Initial studies will observe the validity of this observation among communities displaced by Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the Asian tsunami in 2004 and Nepal’s earthquake in 2015. Our policy recommendations will be developed for the MHPSS sector and civil society from the standpoint of disaster mental health prevention. These policies will be reviewed and revised in ongoing conversations with communities and partners in the field.
External to and published independent of Between Borders