Journal article / Mitigating the Long-Term Psychosocial Impact of a Disaster

Kiran, P. S., Bindu Mohan, V. Abhijith, Amal Abraham, G. Anoop, R. S. Dinesh, Hareesh Krishnan, et al. ‘Framework for Strengthening Primary Health Care and Community Networks to Mitigate the Long-Term Psychosocial Impact of Floods in Kerala’. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 52 (January 2021), Article 101947.

Abstract (edited): Individuals who encounter disasters experience negative consequences across physical, mental, and psychosocial domains. Impacts on mental health and psychosocial domains are more common, and last longer than physical health problems.

In August 2018, Kerala witnessed unprecedented floods that resulted in 483 deaths and significant loss of property and livelihood. Project ‘Pariraksha’ was implemented by the Government of Kerala, to mitigate the long-term psychosocial impact of the disaster. It has been one of the largest comprehensive post-disaster psychosocial projects in India, aimed to benefit approximately 2 million people across 93 panchayats which experienced severe flooding and loss of life.

This paper describes the detailed methodology of this project. In addition, the supplementary material includes the technical manuals that were prepared and are freely accessible to personnel in disaster-affected zones. Counsellors were newly appointed in all the primary health centres in affected panchayats to provide mental health and psychosocial support. Accredited Social Health Activists (community-level health workers) undertook home visits to ensure early case detection.

Medical officers in affected areas received booster training regarding pharmacological management of mental health issues. Multidisciplinary mobile mental health teams were constituted to ensure the availability of specialised mental health inputs locally. The project integrated additional mental health resource personnel, into the existing health care system. Existing health care personnel received training to improve competency in dealing with post-disaster psychosocial issues. This framework is expected to ensure early detection and intervention, thus facilitating timely psychosocial recovery of communities impacted by the floods.

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Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup


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