Psychological Services


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Disaster management workers are themselves a vulnerable group in disasters because of their intense commitments and emotional involvement over a long period of time often without sufficient breaks. They are especially vulnerable where the disaster has been particularly overwhelming, if they thought they might die, if they have lost comrades, attended dead people especially if mutilated or killed through human action or if they reminded them of loved ones. Additional strains include poor communication, failure in equipment,
lack of organisational support and territorial disputes with other organisations.
These workers may suffer from burnout, compassion fatigue and secondary stress disorders. They may also develop their own stress disorders, post- traumatic stress disorder and the variety of biological, psychological and social symptoms and illnesses, as described for primarily affected people.
Because disaster management workers are themselves affected in disasters,
similar assessments and interventions need to be applied to them as to other affected groups. Psychological service organisations and personnel must be especially aware of the needs for monitoring and self-monitoring of service providers and themselves. (See also section 4 Psychological Service
Psychological services which should be made available are peer support

(including sound operational policy, standards and procedures, recognition for work done, rostering), feedback, defusing, debriefing, supervision, mentoring and counselling. Psychological help draws on the same principles as for primarily affected people.
The worker groups overlap with each other and with community groups already considered. Therefore what follows should be read in conjunction with community assessments and interventions in different phases described earlier. However, the following assessments and interventions highlight special helper cultures and needs.

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