css.php

Home » Reflections » OpEds » Psychological Health: Trauma

Psychological Health: Trauma

Reliable health resources after a severe natural disaster is an important factor, to begin recovery. Psychological health assistance should be a priority. Just imagine losing everything, but your life. All that you have ever worked for, such as your homes, businesses, some or all family members and or friends. Emotional support and mental stability is defiantly a need not a want.

On an everyday basis people have personal concerns and or issues in which they have to deal with, but now adding the effects of a natural disaster the trauma can be overwhelming. Stress, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, only to name a few. This is not only a concerning factor for adults but also children as well. Remaining with little to nothing, in a state or country that has per-existing economic issues, poor infrastructure, political controversy, etc. is just throwing salt on an open wound. All these issues aren’t separate from one another they all correlate and are long term problems. For those who are already living in impoverished areas, after a natural disaster life becomes even harder. Getting assistance to repair and replace things in this case after hurricane Maria assistance wasn’t guaranteed, which became paralyzing for many families that were already dealing with economic complications.

For adults, those with families both children and seniors this can be extremely hard. Taking into consideration pre-existing health issues in which they may not have access to the medication they need, or electricity for electricity-dependent medical devices. The power outage after Hurricane Maria was stifling, without electricity for months unable to have what we consider in the twenty- first century as an essential. For those with children, having to act like you are emotionless or trying to make it seem like everything was ok, and that you’re ok, hindered their healing process after the trauma, having low expectations of a positive aftereffect.

For children this is like a loss of childhood, their capacity to adapt to this new lifestyle is not easy. Seeing your parents frustrated because things are just out of their control, struggling to find clean water, no electricity for months, home needing repairs if it isn’t completely gone. The normalcy of their life is somewhat gone, schools closed for weeks to months, the loss of playmates, places they once went destroyed, etc. According to the article The Maria Generation’: Young People are Dying and Suffering on an Island with a Highly Uncertain Future children’s reading, writing, and math skills began to decline, children either attempted to commit suicide or did, increase in sexual abuse, depression and or anxiety. It became “learned hopelessness” their “normal childhood” gone in a blink of an eye and their opportunity to be the “perfect child” is lost in the trauma.

The gone but never forgotten lives, wreaked material possessions, shortcomings of natural resources, and the sense of abandonment one or the other or combined played an enormous role in the trauma people faced. Patricia Noboa Ortega the author of Psychoanalysis as a Political Act After Maria was one of the people who volunteered her needed service as a psychologist to listen to the people of Puerto Rico. She set out to “provide a safe space in which residences could talk about their experiences and thus allow them to calm their anguish… talk about their distress, suffering… it was a way for human beings to calm their anguish with words” (272) She made a great point stating that every person is different, no two people are alike, “they could have lost the same thing” but react and feel differently. After being in a traumatizing situation it’s common for people to become actors and actresses as they tend to put up a front, while inside their dying. For the author, her home signified “a promise that she made to herself as a child,” (272) for many accomplishments and dreams were crushed, having to start all over and not sure what the future holds.

Not everyone has the mentality to cope well, communication is gold, simply asking someone how they are doing, or feeling may make a total difference to their mood. Talking with your child or children, having an honest and pure conversation and or allowing a professional to do such, maybe a step towards walking them off a ledge, but with words. Also, in the article listed above, there was a young man that sent a warning text to his mother. Unfortunately, the telecommunication lines were poor his mother’s replied text message got delivered after it was too late. The young man committed suicide, he was crying for help, he just needed reassurance that his life was worth living, but he didn’t get it in time.

 After such a traumatic event in which the majority of the people experienced a drastic change, people need a support system not in a financial aspect, but physically and psychologically. During times like this building connections and having someone to talk to is consoling, just someone listening to you, without them transferring their emotions. Releasing this heavyweight off of your chest will likely allow you to stop with the clouded thoughts and have some clarity.


6 Comments

  1. I love that you highlighted mental health & the impact of traumatic events. It also causes us to think about representation— we often talk about resilience, but we cannot assume that all people will be equally resilient. Especially when considering children, their mental health is not only vital to their current life, but their mental health will carry on into their adult life as well.

  2. I like how you highlighted the mental health aspect of Hurricane Maria, especially the children. Typically when we think of natural disaster recovery we automatically think of providing physical aid such as food, housing, water, etc. It’s very easy to forget the mental state of a natural disaster surviver. Children, especially, lose the innocence of their childhood and I love how you were able to bring this topics into your post!

  3. As someone who has been lucky enough to have been able to avoid a catastrophic natural disaster, what I read provided immense insight into some of the repercussions some people are forced to face. This post definitely enforced the idea that people are truly pushed to their limits as they have to survive with the position they find themselves in. The least that can be done is provide an attentive ear to their experiences.

  4. I agree with you that mental health is extremely important especially when children are growing up. Many times we shut out mental health talk from society and I think like you say it’s something that should be talked about more. Communities of color especially have been known to be “resilient” in the face of adversity but many times this causes generational traumas in family that continues a cycle of mental illnesses. Once we can break the stigma of mental health in communities of color, people of color will be able to fully heal from all the trauma that has occurred. And it stops future generations from growing up with the same traumas.

  5. I really liked your use of media in this post. I think mental health as a whole is sometimes ignored when discussing natural disasters, especially in children. I really liked your point about people have a need for a support system in situations like this that goes far past a financial aspect. I thought this was a really important post!!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message