Medi-snippets: Psychiatrists offer emotional support for traumatised disaster victims | Sunday Observer

Medi-snippets: Psychiatrists offer emotional support for traumatised disaster victims

The Sri Lanka College of Psychiatrists (SLCP) has issued a media release stating its readiness to provide psychological first aid, the first line of emotional support for those affected by a disaster. It says that psychological first aid is considered a humane supportive response in times of crisis to a fellow human being who is suffering and requires support. It includes providing effective care, support and safety.

It further invites those in need of such support to not hesitate to approach a psychiatric professional. The National Hospital in Colombo and the district hospitals are equipped to provide psychological support while the National Institute of Mental Health is open to anyone to contact and receive appropriate help and guidance, sources said.

The hotline to contact is 1926 which is open 24 hours a day.

The Community Crisis Response Team (CCRT) Sri Lanka has also pledged to help those needing emotional psychological support. Anyone feeling threatened and unsafe by the current crisis in Sri Lanka can contact CCRT-LK – CCC line – 1333..

Other hotlines to call are:

• Shanthi Margam – 0717639898

• Sri Lanka Sumithrayo – 0112692909 – Colombo

• Sri Lanka Sumithrayo – Negombo -03122233222

Guidelines for those affected by disaster

The following guidelines have been issued to those offering support:

• Respect the person/s

• Be genuinely caring

• Ask how he/she can be helped

• Do not force the persons to do anything they don’t want to do

• Speak in simple day to day language. Don’t use technical language

• Regard the person as an equal.

• Do not rationalise or generalise the loss/ do not talk about religion at a time when religious faith is shaken.

• If a person is rude or violent to you it is because of their anger over their loss. Do not take it personally

• Be calm

Communicating with children in distress

The HANA Project has sent the following tips adapted from the rights of the child:

• Let the child set the pace. Do not force him/her to discuss or reveal experiences .

Do not expect the revelation of the story disclosed in one session.

• Accept all emotions even if they seem illogical to you.

• Never give false reassurances

• Talk to them

• Personal care may be necessary –more affection and physical contact characteristics of younger children .

Security for schools, state universities, hostels stepped up

With the reopening of schools security has been beefed up to prevent students being exposed to physical and mental trauma due to violence. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has reportedly said that all national and provincial schools would be checked for bombs and suspicious parcels. The MoE has also reportedly requested the assistance of the Police and the Tri Forces to implement this exercise. In addition it has issued a circular to school authorities to form security Committees inclusive of the principal administration personnel, teachers, parents and past pupils. Under this plan all students who enter the school premises will be identified to belong there and their bags would be checked. All equipment and vehicles entering the school premises would also be checked at all times.

A decision to alert the school community in an emergency and for the administration to notify the parents is also part of the plan.

Health officials speaking on grounds of anonymity have welcomed the plan saying children were the most vulnerable to injuries during a bomb attack and that all state, provincial and district hospitals now had sufficient trained staff to deal with any emergency situation anywhere in the country with a fleet of well equipped ambulances to carry the injured without compounding their injuries. 

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