January 7, 2014
Even the strongest among us sometimes need help

Tue Jan 07, 2013

The preservation or restoration of the mental health of those affected by the disaster of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is being made a priority by the Ministry of Health.{{more}}

This is a very welcome development, as rarely do we hear, in St Vincent and the Grenadines, of mental health issues taking centre stage in times of natural disaster.

In our tiny country, issues concerning mental health carry with them significant stigma, so persons needing professional care in matters of the mind very often delay until the problem has worsened and can no longer be ignored.

Undoubtedly, the events which transpired here between Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day were traumatic for many people. The persons who had to evacuate their homes, those whose relatives died or are missing, and even those persons who had to respond to the needs of victims, will for a long time, have to deal with the psychological fallout of that awful time.

Even persons who live outside the areas where the flooding and landslides took place, report feeling some measure of fear last Sunday evening when it rained and it was learnt that another trough system was approaching the area. The quantity of rain which fell last Sunday and the news of a trough system, would have, prior to Sunday, not evoked the type of emotional response it did.

Far worse, imagine the effect of the disaster on those directly affected.

When you add other natural disasters and personal catastrophes that may have, in recent times, affected some of these same individuals, it is safe to say that the psychological disposition of some of our citizens may have taken a beating lately.

Now that the need has been articulated by those in authority, it is hoped that those charged with the responsibility to seek out and respond to those in need, are diligent in their duties and follow through with their clients.

Not only do the counsellors have a responsibility, but the relatives, friends and associates of the persons who may be traumatized should show care and patience when dealing with them. Yes, Vincentians are a resilient, strong people, but even the strongest among us sometimes need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.