‘In the event of natural disasters, the physical safety of the child and the presence of his/her family must first be ensured’

The people living in the region were affected both physically and psychologically by the earthquakes that happened in Kahramanmaraş and were felt in 11 provinces. Experts draw attention to the psychological effects that can occur after an earthquake, especially in children.

Pointing out that natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and storms are actually part of life, Prof. from the Ege University Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr Burcu Özbaran said: “It is much easier for both children and adults to deal with current events unless they are life-threatening, but each of us’s coping systems are also difficult in the face of larger and massive disasters involving human lives, loss of home be lost.” For preventive mental health it is very valuable to inform children and young people in advance about natural disasters, to teach them how the world and nature work, in a language they understand, with games and simple drawings. of loss of control can be repaired more easily,” he said.


“When it comes to natural disasters, the most important thing in the first instance is to ensure the physical safety of the child, not to be hungry or thirsty and to be with his family,” said Prof. Dr. Özbaran, continuing his words as follows:

“These substances will minimize the child’s negative psychological impact. After the child’s safety and basic needs have been met, what we call psychological first aid, it is necessary to establish a relationship with the child at the permissible level , to watch him, to listen when he wants to talk, to bond, and in the initial acute phase of disasters, both in children and adults.They are natural and supportive responses that people provide to people, and they are very valuable.”


Noting that children and adolescents respond to unexpected, sudden and shocking events such as trauma in a variable range, Prof. Dr. Özbaran said: “Somatic complaints, sleep and appetite problems, nightmares, malaise, self-blame and feeling responsible for what happened, concentration and anger problems, unresponsive are some of these When it comes to trauma, what adults will do for children is to make the child feel safe, express the expressions of children and listen patiently and sincerely to their speech , allowing them to tell if they want to, not forcing them if they don’t want to, using activities such as games and painting for emotional expression .For children, the traumatic event harms the situation and their sense of control.In this process, to feel that they regain control, it is also valuable to support the reconstruction of this with simple questions you might have choice. For example, questions such as ‘What food would you like to eat, what drawing would you like to make, what would you like to do, or if the child is being treated in hospital and there is a chance of an answer’, could be examples of this.

Stressing the importance of ensuring that life returns to normal as soon as possible after a trauma or disaster, Prof. Dr. Özbaran said: “The child must be given the opportunity to create routines in the new post-traumatic order. It is necessary to create environments in which communication between school and peers takes place, albeit simply, and for the child who has experienced a trauma, other children who “do not experience the trauma personally, but remain spectators, as with the large-scale disaster in our current country. That is also necessary,” he said.


Expressing that children and young people should not be forced to talk and explain the event, Prof. Dr. Burcu Özbaran said:

“It is necessary not to criticize the emotions they experience and express, not to recommend them to be strong and insensitive, not to put pressure on them, not to give false, unrealistic information, to give misleading hopes and not to lie For children who have witnessed this situation and who are not in the disaster area, as well as traumatized children, it is necessary not to expose the child to stimuli that give traumatic information such as social media, television and to protect the child from this situation.the above symptoms, which are in the early stages of trauma and disasters, as natural responses to a natural and unusual situation.However, if the mentioned symptoms persist for a long time, in cases where there is some mental health concern, the family may health of the child, should not be delayed in getting support from a child psychiatrist.”

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