In-depth: Coping with crisis
Recovery is based on real security
NAIROBI, 10 November 2010 (IRIN) - How do earthquake survivors cope with the destruction of their homes: from the terror of the moment, when the building shakes and gives way, to the aftermath of picking through the debris of their lives? And what about those who have witnessed horrors, or endured brutality – how do they carry on, burdened with those memories?
In a word, resilience. Surviving a traumatic event does not mean psychological dysfunction will inevitably follow. According to Mike Wessels of the Columbia-based Global Technical Group on Psychosocial Well-being, it is a fiction that most people will need medical intervention to put their lives back together.
Reactions to - and symptoms of - stress vary. Some people have underlying conditions that may reduce their resilience, but generally, “When people who have been through a terrible ordeal feel safe, have shelter and access to food and water and have the basic means for survival, they can recover quite quickly,” says Alison Schafer, mental health and psychosocial support interest group coordinator for World Vision International.
"Trauma" itself might not be a helpful term; it suggests a medical approach, which neglects people’s broader psychosocial needs and the interventions required to meet them, according to the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) guidelines on Mental Health and Psychological Support in Emergency Settings. For many survivors the most troubling aspect of disaster is not the event itself, but coping with day-to-day life afterwards. full report
HEALTH: Helping to put lives back together
Psychosocial support (PSS) is about helping survivors of disasters or crisis resume their regular lives. IRIN asked people involved in psychosocial work to describe what they do, how they determine progress, constraints to delivering this support, and how they measure their success. full report
LIBERIA: Surviving the past
The deep wounds on Joe Turner’s wrists and ankles were strangely golden – a result of the gentian violet antiseptic used to keep them clean by the nurses at ES Grant, Liberia’s only psychiatric hospital. full report
PAKISTAN: Trauma follows IDPs to camps
Two teenage girls peek out from a tent at the Muhammad Khwaja camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the town of Hangu, northwestern Pakistan, before quickly ducking back inside. Like many girls and women based at camps, tradition means they must remain within the shelter much of the day. full report
Analysis: Are humanitarians learning the lessons from Haiti?
Listen to locals, tap into existing capacity, coordinate needs assessments, find strong leaders and provide transitional shelter - not just tents. These are some of the lessons to have emerged from the 2007 tsunami evaluation, numerous earthquake responses and the latest Haiti real-time evaluation, begging the question: when will the humanitarian community start applying these lessons learned. full report