Psychological Recovery from MASS TRAUMA

  • As a grief therapist and psychologist who has worked on Columbine, and other school disasters, tornadoes and private grief with individual patients, There is stricking differences in individual grief and loss to mass grief and disaster trauma.
  • Disasters such as earthquakes, tusnamis, school shootings, terror attacks, envoke deep feelings.  This causes a mass grieving syndrome.  Nothing feels safe to the people of Haiti, because of the mass destruction of everything around them.  Families destroyed, terrible sights, deep feelings of loss and sorrow evoke anger and all the sorrows that are associated with grief, only on a larger scale.
  • Nobody who has been through a disaster or observed the aftermath is untoched or unmoved.  People come to view the world quite differently, as being unsafe, and in Haiti, even the ground under and around them – unstable.
  • We need the organizations that are helping the Haitians to as soon as possible begin to have mental health professionals who are trained in helping disaster trauma to come to this devastated country.  Everything is gone including a social support network and anything that was somewhat normal before this devastating disaster struck.
  • Stress induced symptoms made countless from problems from this earthquake in the months following are disaster survivors finding new ways to meet needs, concerns, problems solving, decision making, setting priorities.  This is true in New York from 9/11, and in Columbine, and other school shootings, the tsunami,  the earthquake in Northridge, and this major disaster in Haiti.  Ordinarily in a community, in the United States, we can provide outreach by helping impacted neighborhoods with crisis counselors, and “psychotherapists.” The mental health problems from the psychological horror and scope in Haiti needs to somehow be tailored to Haiti and the population, and to the ethnic and cultural groups.
  • Shock and denial helps people cope as survivors,  Then during and after people are fighting for shelter, water, food, medical care, the more severe problems set in.
  • Mental recovery is going to be v ery difficult to obtain to such a mass group of people.
  • I only hope that groups like the Red Cross, RAM, (remote area medicine) the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, (just to name a few of the many) will put some concentrated efforts of helping to not only heal the body,and structure of the community and country, but the society itself.  Mental health must ultimately be addressed or this group of society in Haiti will never be the same.  They will be very isolated and never beable to cope again.  It has always been difficult in Haiti, and now with everything displaced, families lost, children separated, continued medical help and the re-builing of a country, I hope that the psychological aspects of what this society has been through are addressed and not overlooked…….2/17/10