Joe Hendren

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mental health legacy of Asian tsunami

I suspect the long term impacts of the January 26 Asian tsunami are only just starting to be recognised.

BBC News has a good report on the mental health legacy of the Asian tsunami. Mental health workers in the region say parts of the area are in a "state of mental emergency", and will need ongoing help for up to a year, if not longer.

Kaz de Jong, head of mental health services for Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), who spent eight days on the ground looking at services in Aceh, says the recovery process is just beginning. According to de Jong, at least 20% of the population will have longer term mental health problems and 5% of these will be severe, with people needing counseling for post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

Laetitia de Schoutheete, co-ordinator of the mental health care projects for MSF in Aceh, said guilt was a big problem for many of the survivors.

I am really pleased to see some focus on the mental health impact of the disaster, as the mental health legacy of January 26 will continue to be an issue long after the 'reconstruction' has completed.

Lets hope the aid continues long after the photo-ops and hammers - the people of the region will need help over many years to recover from the events of January 26th 2004.

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