From those trapped under rubble, to those who lost someone, to rescue workers searching for survivors, the vast majority of those exposed to the catastrophe will experience some kind of emotional aftershock and will need counselling to help them through their grief.
The Sun recently reported that British firefighters have been ordered to have trauma counselling over the horrors they witnessed whilst searching for survivors among the debris. A West Midlands team recently tunnelled into a collapsed supermarket to find the body of a guard cut in two by a falling pillar, the kind of scene that could distress even the most hardened rescue worker.
Across the pond a teaching hospital in Brooklyn is offering free counselling to New York Haitians trying to deal with the devastation the earthquake left behind. The team operate from a trauma van which is currently based outside a market where many Haitians sell their goods.
Reverend Sharon Walker is Director of Pastoral Care at the medical centre which runs the counselling service. She explains that the service is there so they can hear from the community and hopefully carry some of the load. Walker also adds that her staff are able write prescriptions if necessary for those who need sleeping pills or something to take the edge off.
Of course it is the residents of Haiti that will need the most psychological aftercare, especially when considering 30% of those exposed to a traumatic event are likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder indicators. In a local study which was conducted in Kingston following the destruction of 2004’s hurricane Ivan it was found that a significant number of those directly affected were likely to develop symptoms of PTSD.
With many British organisations doing aid work in Haiti, hopefully counselling will become and remain a priority after the immediate devastation has been cleared. It is important that Britain continues to help the residents of Haiti long after the rubble has gone and counselling is just a huge part of that.
If you or someone you know has been affected by the Haiti earth quake or feel you are experiencing symptoms of post traumatic Stress Disorder please visit the homepage of this site where you can contact one of our counsellors today.