Mental health after natural disaster
This October marks a year since Pakistan was hit by a devastating earthquake. Hassan Mustafa Minhas looks at how the earthquake has affected people's mental health
In situations of severe damage to physical and economic wellbeing after a natural disaster, it is easy to overlook the associated psychological trauma. The observer's eye is overwhelmed with images of destruction, and the true psychological impact sinks in only after these have been digested. Although the dent in the psyche is less evident, the consequences are no less profound.
One commonly believed reason for the debilitating nature of mental distress is that mental bruises take much longer to heal than their physical counterparts, and even when they do, they leave indelible scars. Also, unlike physical damage, which is usually restricted to only the person affected, psychological damage affects many people around him, and society as a whole.
When the tsunami hit South East Asia, ministries of health, the World Health Organization, and other partners quickly assessed people's health to determine the most pressing needs. Surveys of the worst affected