Psycho Solutions
Psycho Solutions
One year on is a good time for me to reflect on how we have been addressing the psychosocial needs of Earthquake affected people in Dhading district.
Our initial response (first 3 month) was to train 7 generic health workers in Psychological First Aid (PFA) to focus on orientating victims to place and context and to reconnect them with family, community and appropriate services.
I was able to provide psycho-education to numerous NGOs, INGOs, schools and churches in the months after the earthquake (speaking to around 1500 people directly) and publish a leaflet which carried these messages to many parts of the country. I was consulted personally by a number of affected individuals who were concerned about either their own reaction or that of their children. For some who were ‘at home’ when the earthquake struck there were issues of how to feel safe again in a building that appeared to threaten to kill you. Those most severely affected had witnessed distressing events at the time of the earthquake, of people trapped and or seriously injured. Such images can lodge in the mind and when they are still present a number of months after the event can benefit greatly from some targeted counselling to help them resolve. The good news is that with the support of family, friends and community support the great majority of survivors have been able to recover from this traumatic event without long –term effects.
Our phase 2 approach to meeting the psycho-social needs of earthquake survivors (up to 2 years after the Earthquake) is threefold. The first strand is training our mental health Partner staff to facilitate Trauma Healing Groups (THG) using a bespoke version of a similar programme previously developed and used successfully if earlier disasters in Nepal. The second strand is training facilitators to train teachers in using mental health promoting material in schools. This material uses fun and thought-provoking worksheets and exercises to promote good general mental health while having the ability to help identify children struggling to recover from the impact of the earthquake. The third strand of our approach is additional mental health training for health workers in local health posts and additional funding for psychotropic drugs. In these ways we are developing a broad provision within this badly affected area.
The range of responses to this disaster has been very wide, explained to some extent by a number of predisposing factors and the nature of exposure a person had during the earthquake.
I believe that our range of responses noted above is ensuring that those who need additional help will be identified and connected to appropriate services.
Dr. Stephen Coulter

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