Children should be able to talk about earthquakes

Two major earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş also cause a large-scale social crisis that deeply affects the entire society. Dr. Instructor Member Tuğba Pehlivan says that this state of trauma can cause feelings such as insomnia, fear of staying in closed places, anxiety, tension and anger due to not listening. Pehlivan argues that children and adults deal with trauma differently, saying that children should be able to talk about what they saw and heard about the earthquake and children could be included in social assistance plans.

The disaster is a social trauma

Tuğba Pehlivan argues that the disaster is a social trauma, saying, “The disaster experienced is a social trauma that is no longer an individual trauma. Naturally, disasters that cause deep pain cause both mental and physical problems. Feelings like insomnia, fear of staying in closed spaces, anxiety, tension and anger can be experienced as a result of not listening. If these effects persist for a long time after a trauma, it is necessary to seek help from professionals to deal with them. Children or adults deal with trauma differently. It is especially important that children are not exposed to negative information and media reports, and that false information and misleading news are not shared with children. Just like for children, it is important for adults to get the right information, share their feelings and thoughts and activate their social support systems.”

Pehlivan argues that attention should also be paid to the news and shared photos, says Pehlivan: “It is extremely important to pay attention to the protection of privacy in the media reports, as this will negatively affect the ability of earthquake victims to cope with long-term trauma.”

‘Rescuers’ are at risk of compassion fatigue concept

Claiming that people conducting relief activities in the earthquake zone are at risk in terms of the concept of “compassion fatigue,” Pehlivan says:

Compassion fatigue is expressed as the negative effect of helping individuals who have experienced a traumatic event or who are in pain. It is a fact that ‘responders’, especially in the earthquake zone, are at risk in the long run regarding the concept of compassion fatigue. The compassion, willingness and ability to help of healthcare professionals experiencing compassion fatigue diminishes over time. That is why it is very important to support health workers who act as first responders and to organize work teams.”

Supporting healthcare workers is important

Noting the importance of resting and supporting the health workers who are in the region to help the earthquake victims, Pehlivan continues his words as follows:

“Just like the post-disaster pandemic period, healthcare professionals may experience fatigue or burnout. First of all, we are grateful to the health workers and all civil servants who are currently working in earthquake zones, but I would like to say that it is very important for health workers to meet their basic needs, not to postpone their own needs, and to rest. As the message of the Psychiatric Nursing Association goes, “Remember that one must live to keep one alive.”

There are both individual and corporate responsibilities so they don’t experience burnout or compassion fatigue in the long run. It is important that healthcare professionals are supported to increase their individual awareness, pay attention to their own self-care and develop resilience. Institutions have a particularly important role to play in recognizing health worker fatigue and taking precautions. Healthcare workers should be supported with institutional arrangements or individual coping programs. Sharing the experienced traumatic events is very effective in coping with the trauma and easing the emotional burden of the experienced events. In that context, environments can be created where healthcare professionals can share their feelings.”

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