The Psychosocial Effects Likely to Occur in Various Types of Disasters
The psychosocial effects can be divided into direct experiences during the disaster and reactions after the event. Immediate responses reflect the maximum magnitude of the catastrophe associated with severe physical damage and danger. It is also caused by the fact that a person witnesses the death of loved ones or their injuries. Depending on its type, maladaptive reactions at the time of the disaster are divided into paralyzing anxiety, uncontrolled flight, and group panic. Many emotional reactions can occur after the catastrophe; their character is similar for different types of disasters. Common post-traumatic reactions include an intense feeling of anxiety, accompanied by frightening memories of past experiences such as nightmares and panic. Any reminder can activate these feelings, and a person may try to avoid such reminders or hide from these feelings (the so-called avoidance reaction). If the reactions persist for longer than a few weeks, this indicates post-traumatic stress disorder.
Strategies Nurses Can Use to Help People in The Immediate Aftermath of a Disaster
Nurses can provide emergency psychological assistance that is short-term help after a substantial negative, stressful impact. Depending on the presence of such reactions as crying, hysteria, nervous trembling, stupor, aggression, and apathy, it is necessary to choose a strategy of psychological assistance. The first strategy is to let the victim believe in their competence. To do this, it is needed to give them an assignment that they will cope with. This method is used to convince the survivor of their abilities and have a sense of self-control. The next strategy is to let the survivor of the disaster speak out. It is necessary to listen to them carefully and actively, be attentive to their feelings and thoughts, retell the positive moments from what they said. Another strategy is to attract people from the victim’s immediate environment to help, if possible; it is necessary to give them simple instructions beforehand.
The Impact of Disaster Trauma on First Responders
During a natural disaster, all first responders work in extreme conditions. In such working conditions, rapid processes of professional burnout, emotional and physical exhaustion are inevitable. They are manifested by the growth of neurotic, anxiety, depressive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, somatic disorders, self-harming behavior, or even leaving the profession. More than half of first responders working in natural disasters experience constant nervous tension, half report having depressive states and anxiety, and a third begin to have sleep disorders (Freedman, 2019). Among first responders working with disaster trauma, there is a high risk of developing mental health problems.
Community Reactions to A Large-scale Disaster
After a large-scale disaster, a non-therapeutic community is formed, characterized by a high degree of conflict, atypical mass maladaptive reactions, deviant behavior, and mental attitudes of the population. Large-scale disaster causes noticeable and sometimes global damage to the environment. More importantly, it leads to destructive social, psychological, and medical consequences in the lives of thousands and millions of people, which in some cases cause severe somatic disorders and diseases. The effects of large-scale disasters have a vast number of socio-psychological aspects. Most researchers recognize the pathogenic influence of physical influences, point to the significant role of stress irritants. The psychological factors generated by the disaster and its consequences must be considered when rehabilitating the population. Accidents and catastrophes harm the physical and mental state of a person. In the post-crisis period, the socio-psychological conditions of his life activity and the individual’s quality of life significantly change. The psychological perception of the environment: attitudes, value orientations, and priorities are also considerably affected. This substantially changes the individual’s psychological status, the content of the current ecological consciousness, determines further life goals and ways to achieve them.
The Psychosocial Training Needs of All Disaster Responders
The purpose of psychosocial training is to form the readiness of disaster responders to act professionally, competently, clearly, and with high efficiency in any difficult conditions of official activity. The main objective of psychological training is to increase the psychological resistance of employees to the effects of stress factors. In addition, it is aimed at developing employees’ psychological qualities, forming the necessary skills and abilities that contribute to the highly effective performance of all professional actions in any working environment. Psychosocial training is required for all disaster responders to perform their functional duties effectively; psychological readiness significantly increases professional skills. Scientific data and the existing positive experience indicate the need to introduce particular tasks, forms, and methods of purposeful improvement of psychological readiness in the system of vocational training.
Helpful Interventions for Use with Survivors of a Disaster
According to Giarratano, Marirose, and Orlando (2019), a practical intervention for nervous tremors in the survivor of a disaster is to increase their trembling. To do this, it is needed to take the survivor by their shoulders and shake them hard and sharply for a few seconds. As a helpful intervention in case of fear, a person’s hand can be put on the responder’s wrist so that the survivor feels the calm pulse of the disaster responder. In addition, a light massage of the tensest muscles of the body can be made to help the survivor of a disaster release muscle tension.
The Characteristics of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a prolonged delayed reaction to very severe stress. The main signs of PTSD are constant mental reproduction and repeated experience of a traumatic event. The characteristics are detachment, emotional numbness, a tendency to avoid events, people, and topics of conversation that may remind the patient of a traumatic event. The patient is experiencing increased excitability, anxiety, irritability, and physical discomfort. PTSD is characterized by a constant feeling of alienation from others, a lack of reaction, or a weakly expressed response to current events. Even though the traumatic situation has remained in the past, patients with PTSD continue to suffer from experiences associated with this situation. According to Spencer, Nolan, Osborn, and Georgiou (2019), they do not have the resources for normal perception and processing of new information. Patients with PTSD lose the ability to enjoy and enjoy life, become less sociable, move away from other people; their emotions are dulled, and the emotional repertoire becomes more meager.
The Possible Benefits and Dangers of Psychological Debriefing
The possible advantage of a psychological survey is the simplicity of conducting it. In addition, it is possible to interview a large number of people in a short period, which gives a large and diverse sample. This method is most often used on the anonymity of respondents, which allows specialists to get more reliable results. Also, during psychological debriefing, the interviewer has no influence and pressure on the respondent’s opinion, which contributes to obtaining more truthful and undistorted answers. A possible disadvantage is that there is no personal contact between the interviewer and the respondent during psychological debriefing. Due to this, it is not possible to clarify some details of the questions from the interviewer. In addition, due to the low control over the respondents, there is a high chance that the questionnaire will not be filled out. This problem occurs very often, especially when the interviewees themselves are not interested in taking the survey.
Freedman, S. (2019). Psychological interventions to prevent PTSD. Psychiatric Annals, 49(7), 128-139.
Giarratano, G., Marirose, B., & Orlando, S. (2019). A model for disaster psychosocial support for the perinatal population. The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, 33(3), 219-228.
Spencer, S. A., Nolan, J. P., Osborn, M., & Georgiou, A. (2019). The presence of psychological trauma symptoms in resuscitation providers and an exploration of debriefing practices. Resuscitation, 142(4), 175-181.