Provide counseling to disaster victims

TANZANIA: IN any human society, disasters whether natural or human-generated produce so much harm to people, things, economies, or the environment that the affected community or society cannot handle on its own.

With that in mind, whenever/wherever a disaster strikes, the government through rescuers normally respond and join the public to search and offer rescue operations, as well as the provision of immediate relief for those affected in the form of medical care, food and water, and temporary shelter.

Here, the purpose is to meet the immediate disaster-caused needs of individuals, families, and communities so that at least life is temporarily restored when long lasting solutions are being sought.

However, we should have it in mind that relief is significant because it is critical to engage with the impacted community at a time when people are most at-risk.

In normal cases, activities in the relief phase include evacuations, establishment of relief centres, providing temporary shelter and first aid, but we intend to forget counselling that is quite vital and tend to be taken for granted.

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Research shows that during disasters, many people will initially experience distressing thoughts, feelings, and physical symptoms and may engage in risky behaviors to help cope.

Some may develop psychiatric disorders, like depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Equally, whether they are natural or man-made, disasters change the lives of many who experience them. Counselors here serve as a vital part of disaster response and recovery team.

Counselors provide mental health services to all survivors affected by disasters -individuals, families, and their communities.

As much as we donate money, items, blood and other volunteer with the Red Cross to save lives, it is important that the government also comes up with a department that is standby to readily provide counseling to the affected people.

This might tempt one to ask-what are the benefits of crisis counseling? In a nutshell, such an intervention has several purposes.

It aims to: Reduce the intensity of an individual’s emotional, mental, physical and behavioral reactions to a crisis.

Help individuals return to their level of functioning before the crisis.

In this case, it is important to have Counsellors (mental health and psychologist team) who will offer counseling to victims and their families, emergency workers, and witnesses during or immediately following a catastrophic event.

At the same time, as Tanzanians we should continue with the spirit of donating items mainly food, water, and shelter as much as we join local officials and relief workers on the scene to rescue our brothers and sisters stricken by a disaster.

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