Canadian Red Cross provides ‘psychological first aid’ to Tyhoon Haiyan survivors

Posted on November 28, 2013

Even after a disaster like Typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged the Philippines, kids have energy to burn.

Toronto social services worker Sandra Damota is in one of the devastated areas to ensure that some of those kids have a mentally healthy outlet for that energy, as well as to assist adult survivors, set violence prevention strategies and train Philippine nationals in the basic guidelines of emergency psychological support.

With intense focus on meeting physical needs, it’s easy to forget the importance of the social structures and support people rely on for their sense of normalcy, she says. “We try to focus on their psychological health, to minimize the impact of post-traumatic stress,” she says.

They speak with survivors and gauge how they are managing, looking for normal reactions to stress. Surviving a disaster of such magnitude, losing home and possessions and dealing with death and injury leads to compounded stress, Damota says.

Normal stress responses in children are irritability, anger, withdrawing and being clingy. “We watch and monitor what the natural responses to stress are and work with children when they’re in those stages, but also watch out for more extreme,” Damota says.

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Category(s):Mental Health in Asia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD

Source material from The Star