WHO, DOH address mental health of Yolanda victims in the Philippines
by FFE PH News Staff
As the Philippines continues to recover more than a month after Typhoon Yolanda, the Department of Health (DOH) and World Health Organization (WHO) address the possible psychological effects the traumatic event caused the survivors by training field workers in disaster areas.
“The typhoon will have long-lasting effects. We must be prepared to give support to families and communities for the long-term, and we need more trained field workers to do it,” said WHO Representative Dr. Julie Hall.
With the participation of government professionals, universities, and community agencies, WHO and DOH have organized training for field workers involved in relief operations in areas hit by Yolanda.
In addition, copies of “Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers” manual are distributed to bureaus working with the health, education, social welfare, and security departments.
The psychological first aid authored by WHO, War Trauma Foundation, and World Vision International “involves humane, supportive and practical help to fellow human beings suffering serious crisis events.”
The guide, endorsed by many international agencies, also provides a framework for supporting the victims in ways that respect their dignity, culture, and abilities.
DOH’s disaster mental health specialist Dr. Ronald Law cited the importance of the guide to the victims of Yolanda.
“I’ve been sent to previous disasters before but you could see that this is really something bigger. Psychological first aid is something that we are really trying to disseminate to all health workers. It is a practical and powerful tool,” said Law.
As people are more likely to suffer from a range of mental problems during and after emergencies, providing psychosocial support to the victims became one of WHO’s top priorities.