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Victimized children involved with disasters more likely to have mental health issues
Date:8/26/2010

behavioral problems.

"It is a good time to screen children, to put them in contact with people who can help them because issues such as sexual abuse or neglect are still incredibly stigmatized," she said. "So a disaster like a fire or flood can put these children in contact with social services that can then identify other issues beyond the immediate trauma."

Children's reactions to disasters and other kinds of stressful events varied widely, especially for adolescents.

"After a disaster, we tell parents to remain calm, to resume a routine, and to assure children that adults will keep them safe. In reality, not all families provide calm, safe places with predicable routines. This study shows that children in those families are at higher risk for emotional and behavioral problems. We should be thinking about ways to help those families, while recognizing that most families cope with disasters well with less support."

Bob Porter is a retired licensed clinical social worker who volunteers as a Disaster Mental Health responder for the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross. He has spent more than 30 years in the field of disaster mental health and post-trauma psychological intervention, including extensive work with victimized and traumatized children.

Volunteers like Porter who are part of the organization's disaster mental health team, assess what types of psychological support might be needed for survivors and victims following major disasters and traumatic events. They also train other Red Cross disaster and emergency responders on how to sensitively deal with disaster victims.

"We provide people with a variety of psychological supports, both in the immediate aftermath of disaster and in the short-term, connecting people with key resources and making referrals when there are more serious mental health issues involved," he said. "We provide a back-up to local mental health services and help people get a
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Contact: Kathryn Becker-Blease
kathryn.blease@oregonstate.edu
541-737-1362
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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