Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Shortcomings in Dealing with Psychological Effects of Natural Disasters in Iran

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Shortcomings in Dealing with Psychological Effects of Natural Disasters in Iran

Article excerpt

Introduction

Disasters are either man-made or natural events (1,2) whose general consequences include disruption of social and psychological order of communities, destruction of infrastructure and residential houses, deaths and injuries, destruction of assets and properties and disruption of social life of communities (3). Major disasters require a different form of management. In the case of a major disaster, management process may be very complex and full of problems because disasters have very chaotic situations (4). Iran is subject to a broad range of natural and man-made disasters (5) and has historically been damaged a lot by natural disasters (6). Over the past century, hundreds of thousands of people have died due to disasters like war, earthquake, flood and drought. Bam deadly earthquake in 2003, in south eastern Iran, is claimed to have taken the lives of more than 30,000 people (7). Zarand earthquake in 2005 in central Iran, Silakhor earthquake in 2006 in Western Iran (8), Eastern Azerbaijan earthquake in 2002, Bushehr earthquake and Southern Khorasan earthquake in 2003 are some of the natural disasters occurred in Iran in the recent decade.

Management in natural disasters has various and different aspects, one of which is related to mental issues at individual and social levels. Mental health programs during and after a disaster have recently been very controversial (9). Natural disasters are situations that need high social and psychosocial support (10). Every year, millions of people are affected by natural disasters. Research has shown that exposure to disasters exacerbates traumas (2). Among the effects of disasters, consequences which damage the health and lives of people are of great importance (11). Since some countries, including Iran, are disaster-stricken, having comprehensive and dynamic disaster management structures is essential in coping with disasters. In times of disaster, an approach that addresses physical, mental and social needs of individuals is very crucial (12). Psychological needs of victims and taking measures to deal with the psychological effects of disasters are among the needs mentioned above. Psychological responses must not be limited to disaster period but rather must continue long after disaster due to long-term effects disaster has on victims.

Although number of studies related to psychological support in natural disasters is growing, there is still a shortage of these studies (13). The breadth and severity of medical problems among patients with mental illnesses are not well known (14). People's mental and physical health and behavior are closely linked together (15). These relations will be very important after a disaster (16). Psychological support in disasters focuses on identification of individuals who are at risk of long-term psychological effects and on development of effective strategies to cope with stress after disaster (17). Psychological intervention is one of the important aspects in the comprehensive chain of mental health cares after disasters and is considered an important factor in preventing mental health problems after disasters and in creating suitable social support (13).

Studies have shown the presence of mental disorders after disasters (18). New research focuses on transforming mental health systems in order to recognize the long-term psychological effects of a disaster (19). Integrating mental response and mental health programs with humanitarian assistance programs can bring about an opportunity to present a model to centralize mental health in public health structures of a country (20). Meredith et al. (2012) considered psychological consequences a priority for preparing for and responding to disasters and presented a conceptual framework for managing the consequences of disasters in order to guide hospitals and clinics. This model consists of structural components (internal organizational structure and a chain of command, resources and infrastructures and knowledge and skills) and process components (coordination with external organizations, assessing and monitoring risk, psychological support and sharing information and communication) (21). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.