Last Update: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Helping People Cope With A Disaster PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 11:39


• Excessive fear of darkness, separation, or being alone

• Clinging to parents, fear of strangers

• Worry

• Increase in immature behaviors

• Not wanting to go to school

• Changes in eating/sleeping behaviors

• Increase in aggressive behavior or shyness

• Bed-wetting or thumb-sucking

• Persistent nightmares

• Headaches or other physical complaints


• Talk with your child about his/her feelings about the disaster. Share your feelings, too.

• Talk about what happened, give your child information he/she can understand.

• Reassure your child that you are safe and together. You may need to repeat this reassurance often.

• Hold and touch your child often.

• Spend extra time with your child at bedtime.

• Allow your child to mourn or grieve over the lost toy, a lost blanket, or a lost home.

• If you feel your child is having problems at school, talk to his/ her teacher so you can work together to help your child.

Usually a child’s emotional response to a disaster will not last long. But some problems may be present or recur many months afterward. Your community mental health center is staffed by counselors skilled in talking


Having just experienced the shock and pain of a disaster, you will be very busy for the next few days or weeks. Caring for your immediate needs, perhaps finding a new place to stay, planning for cleanup and repairs, and filing claim forms may occupy the majority of your time.

As the immediate shock wears off, you will start to rebuild and put your life back together.

There are some normal reactions we may all experience as a result of a disaster. Generally, these feelings don’t last long, but it is common to feel let down and resentful many months after the event. Some feelings or responses may not appear until weeks or even months after the disaster.

Some common responses are:

• Irritability/Anger

• Sadness

• Fatigue

• Headaches or nausea

• Loss of appetite

• Hyperactivity

• Inability to sleep

• Lack of concentration

• Nightmares

• Increase in alcohol or drug consumption Many victims of disaster will have at least one of these responses.

Acknowledging your feelings and stress is the first step in feeling better.

Other helpful things to do include:

• Talk about your disaster experiences. Sharing your feelings rather than holding them in will help you feel better about what happened.

• Take time off from cares, worries and home repairs. Take time for recreation, relaxation or a favorite hobby. Getting away from home for a day or a few hours with close friends can help.

• Pay attention to your health, to good diet and adequate sleep. Relaxation exercises may help if you have difficulty sleeping.

• Prepare for possible future emergencies to lessen feelings of helplessness and bring peace of mind.

• Rebuild personal relationships in addition to repairing other aspects of your life.

Couples should make time to be alone together, both to talk and to have fun.

If stress, anxiety, depression, or physical problems continue, you may wish to contact the post-disaster services provided by the local mental health center.

Being aware of your feelings and sharing them with others is an important part of recovery and feeling normal again soon.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 January 2014 12:46

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