How to cope with trauma that arises from natural disasters

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Health Assured team

13 September 2023

Psychological Effects of Disaster

Natural disasters such as the Morocco Earthquake are considered to be traumatic events that can potentially trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in survivors and family members. They have an unparalleled potential to produce severe levels of stress, anxiety, and anger in those who are affected.

People may have lost their loved ones, their homes, and even entire communities. As a result, they may feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness; living in temporary camps for extended periods of time, loss of their belongings, and social support networks they once leaned on.

Recognising the Emotional Impacts

It’s important to recognise that it is very normal to experience PTSD-like symptoms in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Furthermore, victims do not necessarily need to have experienced the disaster first-hand to be psychologically affected.

In the wake of the Morocco Earthquake, relatives living in the UK and elsewhere will undoubtedly be worried for their safety and well-being, possibly being subject to hours of dire television coverage, coupled with an ability to get information directly from the ground. Disasters such as this can have an emotional impact on someone even from afar.

Common Symptoms of Trauma

According to the American Psychological Association, the following are common symptoms of trauma:

  • Flashbacks – repeated and vivid memories of the event that lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating
  • Fear that the emotional event will be repeated – pertinent to earthquake disasters as aftershocks can occur
  • Mood becomes intense, polarised, and unpredictable. Feelings of anxiety and depression are common.
  • Confusion or difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and chest pain

Earthquake survivors are recommended to seek professional guidance and mental health support if they are struggling to regain control of their lives in the aftermath of a disaster or if they continue to suffer from PTSD symptoms.

Ways to Cope with Natural Disasters

Though the effects of natural disasters can be devastating physically and emotionally, there are steps you can take to reduce the trauma and help you cope.

  • Talk about the effect of natural disasters – share your feelings and experiences with others. Holding in your emotions will only make them more intense.
  • Focus on self-care – caring for your mind, body, and spirit can increase your ability to cope with traumatic events. Practice mindfulness, make sure you eat well, exercise regularly, and try to get enough sleep.
  • Identify mental health support and counselling services –crisis counsellors can offer guidance and support to those suffering from PTSD symptoms. We offer Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) designed to help deal with high-risk traumatic situations, including pre-incident support, crisis intervention, and post-incident support.
  • Connect with social support – research shows that early intervention, access to resources, and support from others can be a major factor in relieving the emotional strain of traumatic events.

We are here to help

Health Assured delivers specialist Critical Incident Stress Management that has been developed to help you and your relatives cope following a traumatic experience such as a natural disaster.

Our trauma counselling network is on hand to assist you and your employees through any difficult period. Our services include:

  • Immediate response including crisis advice and counselling
  • Support from a UK-based Employee Assistance Programme 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • Information leaflets and managerial support tools
  • Offering a consultative approach to employee absence management

How can an EAP help support your employees with trauma?

We know that trauma can have a huge impact on how your employees engage with the workplace. Putting your people first and supporting them throughout life's challenges helps both your people and your business.

In our latest guide, we cover how improving access to support with an EAP can help employees cope in times of difficulty.

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Tel: 0800 206 2551

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