Disaster response psychology needs to change

15 May

This reminds me of the story I was told as a child I refer to as “Saving fish from drowning”
( I don’t remember the parable word for word & haven’t found it on the internet yet)
But it went something like this, if I can portray it well enough for you in a short version:

There was a preacher with a heart of gold who was traveling to save the world.
He had never seen the beach until one day he found himself at the shore…

Later they found him at the beach in a panic surrounded with dead fish lying everywhere on the shore.
When they asked him what was happening, he frantically exclaimed he had found all these fish drowning in the ocean.
He keeps pulling them out of the water & they are still alive gasping for air when he gets to them and places them safely out of the water so they can breath.
But sadly every-time he is just a little too late because they all keep dying..

He says help me, help me save these fish from drowning! there must be thousands of them..

I think you get the idea & I would love the parable if anyone has/knows it.
Sometimes the best intentions can be the most harmful instead of helpful.

Understanding is key.

– BlotterMonkey (RW)

Mind Hacks

Photo by Flickr user flyingjournals. Click for source.I’ve got an article in today’s Observer about how disaster response mental health services are often based on the erroneous assumption that everyone needs ‘treatment’ and often rely on single-session counselling sessions which may do more harm than good.

Unfortunately, the article has been given a rather misleading headline (‘Minds traumatised by disaster heal themselves without therapy’) which suggests that mental health services are not needed. This is not the case and this is not what the article says.

What it does say is that the common idea of disaster response is that everyone affected by the tragedy will need help from mental health professionals when only a minority will.

It also says that aid agencies often use single-session counselling sessions which have been found to raise the risk of long-term mental health problems. This stems from a understandable desire to ‘do something’ but this motivation is not enough to…

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