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The psychological impact of floods not fully understood
The lack of trained personnel to provide professional counselling and psychological advice to the flood affected people in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram, Cuddalore, Toothukudi and Tirunelveli districts can lead to mental health-related issues in the future, according to psychiatrists
Flood relief work for the rain affected people that is still continuing considers only the physical aspect of victims’ lives, but those affected, especially little children, need long-term guidance if they are to overcome their inherent fears and lead a normal life. Dr. Lakshmi T. Rajan, founder, Mastermind Foundation, cites the case of a small girl who refuses to touch crayons post floods as the rising water level in her house washed away her crayon set. The child today associates flood water with crayons.
“They need care and counselling, but the lack of such professional help is being felt only now,” she says. “While the awareness of mental health issues is yet to catch up in Chennai, it is vital to understand that flood affected people can suffer from psychogenic issues which normal medical professionals may be unaware of,” she said.
She said such lack of awareness resulted in only 100 people turning up for counselling though arrangements were made to accommodate 500 in a Chennai location recently.
She cited the example of a girl’s school on Bhatt Road at Kathipara junction near Guindy _ following the foundation, through Facebook and Whatsapp, volunteering to provide professional counselling _ where school authorities’ feedback revealed a marked positive change in girls after a two-hour session.
While affected little children needed their mother’s care to be normal as their age prevented them from being impacted by the crisis, it was adolescents who were liable to be affected more because they had lost precious school time in addition to total loss of their books just a month before their examinations.
Such students needed counselling as poor performance in exams could affect their future and then they would always associate water with failure or blame the flood for their failure.
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