International Mental Health Day

The impact of a natural disaster goes beyond physical damage. Earthquakes, fires, floods or volcanic eruptions leave indelible marks on victims, especially when homes or loved ones are lost. We are, after all, creatures of habit: routines generate feelings of security and comfort. When these practices are affected by natural disasters,  confusion or helplessness prevail over our mental health.

Throughout our 14 years within the field of humanitarian aid, we have witnessed the impact that disasters have on the psychic life of the individual and the community. Post-traumatic stress, although not resolved in the short term,  must be addressed immediately.

«When one arrives at the disaster zone, he or she needs to addresses immediate basic needs like water, heat, shelter. Providing useful information also reassures he victim; close contact with another human being creates a sense of calm,» says Liora Pupko Sissa, Coordinator of CADENA’S Psychology Department.

Under Pupko’s tutelage, CADENA performs three types of interventions in affected communities:

  1. ) First-encounter-psychological-aid: focused on solving in-mediate needs during the first 72 hours after a crisis.
    2. Post-crisis care: focused on relieving childhood trauma through «My Book of Resilience,» a resource for children ages 5 to 15.
    3. Long-term follow-up: long-term stays in affected communities and continuity of cases.

At CADENA we recognize that mental health is an urgent issue at the international level, beyond the disaster sector. According to the World Health Organization, 450 million people suffer from some mental or behavioral disorder. One in four families has at least one member affected by a mental disorder.

Aaccording to Liora Pupko, in Mexico there are still many taboos on the subject: “Just as in disasters there are prevention mechanisms, there are mental health prevention mechanisms — exercising, meditating, etc. — that can be developed to be more resiliet in  future crises. «