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Monday, 13 June 2011

Disaster Planning and Mental Health

That disasters cause mental health problems is obvious to most people, and understood and accepted by many. In every large scale disaster there will be those who are pushed beyond their ability to understand or cope with the events around them. Disaster planning acknowledges this, and includes some provision for providing support to those traumatised by the event. Some sufferers, however, are apparently overlooked.

A team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics have published an article saying more attention should be devoted to helping those already identified as having mental disorders. Somehow, it seems, the ethical and practical issues of preparing to support people with existing mental or intellectual disabilities are not catered for, in either the planning or execution of disaster relief. There is no reference to Christchurch, however it does provide useful background for the time when we revisit the new city's state of preparedness.

The website Terra Daily has published an article More focus needed on mental health triage in disaster preparedness which discusses the research (here).

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