After the earthquakes of February 6, which were on the agenda of all Turkey and even the world, the wounds continue to heal. In addition to providing the physical conditions in the living spaces created for the earthquake survivors, the experts agree that it is necessary to behave psychologically sensitively. In this sense, psychiatrist Shafiga Ünal, who gave her opinion on the text prepared by the Psychological Trauma and Disaster Study Unit of the Turkish Psychiatric Association, drew attention to the transfer of “correct information”.
Psychiatrist Shafiga Ünal, who began her words primarily from the emotional states that can be experienced in people who experienced the earthquake, said: “People who experience, see or hear disaster after disaster experience unpleasant emotions and physical reactions . Emotions such as surprise, fear, helplessness, guilt, anxiety, shock, bewilderment, change in religious beliefs, and distrust of self and others can arise, especially in these days when we are experiencing serious disasters such as earthquakes. Psychological first aid has been approved by experts as helpful in reducing the burden of the initial emotional reactions that occur in the people affected by the disaster. It is important that people trust each other and the bond they develop with each other in order to be self-sufficient and strengthen their feelings of hope.”
“Fast access to help and services builds confidence”
Noting that the aid and services received are effective in creating an atmosphere of trust, Shafiga Ünal said, “After disasters, governments and aid unions play an important role in reducing the stressors of the general society and victims. Equitable distribution of food, clothing, shelter and similar resources for basic needs, and prompt access to health care strengthen confidence, and the outcome is positive. For the good of society, we must always act in accordance with ethical principles.”
“Accurate and detailed information is important”
Ünal stressed the need to be careful about all sorts of sensitivities of those who are already victims throughout the process and said it is extremely important to provide accurate and detailed information. Ünal continued his statements as follows:
“In this process, providing accurate information to earthquake victims, listening to them when they want to convey their feelings, approaching them in a compassionate and kind manner, helping them communicate with their close friends and loved ones, bringing them together with other relatives or relatives if be possible, relevant and helpful about the upcoming period, helping the state and their loved ones. It is important to refer them to other aid organizations and provide detailed information about transportation.
Don’t force people to tell their story and go into personal details, don’t give simple assurances like “everything will be fine” or “at least you’re alive”, don’t dictate what they will feel and do, don’t say they experienced this event because of their personal conduct or beliefs, do not make promises that cannot be kept. It is very important not to publicly criticize service and rescue activities.”
“The situation should not be dramatized”
Ünal also warned that the images related to the disaster should not be dramatized and shared with earthquake victims: “The media can report news of violence and trauma in detail and especially often use visual material. Presenting this situation with visual elements in dramatization creates negative effects on the victims and their relatives. If the images or verbal information does not come from a reliable source, there is a risk that the information sent will adversely affect the target. It would be more accurate to convey verbal information in some seriously traumatic images.”
“There is a tendency to seek out criminals”
“After disasters and traumas, people often look for a culprit. We must be careful not to blame one person or group on the basis of rumors and watch out for gossip,” Ünal said, concluding his advice as follows:
“Anxiety and related symptoms such as rapid breathing, palpitations and difficulty breathing can occur, which are symptoms that can occur when the person feels in danger. It is important not to hesitate to talk about the event with a family member who can listen to you, and especially to stop looking at the events throughout the day. Feelings of insomnia, loss of appetite, weakness, helplessness and hopelessness are also common. For this reason, it is necessary not to use sedatives and alcohol. When very intense fear is felt, relaxation exercises and breathing exercises can be good.