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Mental health in the aftermath of ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie

11 April 2017

Executive Director Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services Professor David Crompton today encouraged the community to look after their mental health in the wake of ex-tropical cyclone Debbie and following recent weather events.

“Immediately following a natural disaster people normally manage with the support of family and friends,” Professor Crompton said.

“Reactions to a disaster like this include shock and numbness, often fear at first, anxiety and grief when the extent of the loss is realised.

“These initial post disaster reactions are normal responses and tend to settle especially if people take time to care for themselves and spend time talking with friends and families.

“It’s in the weeks and months following a disaster if these feelings don’t settle people should seek help.

“In the first instance, I would encourage community members to contact Lifeline or Redcross.

“Your GP can be contacted as they often are in the best position to assist with ongoing concerns and the Metro South community can access local mental health services for information and assistance in times of mental health crisis 24 hours a day via a centralised phone number 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 22 55).”

Professor Crompton said the planning that Metro South Health conduct to prepare for disasters came into play last week.

“While flooding caused road closures and the evacuation of thousands of residents in low-lying areas, staff across Metro South staff pulled out all stops to ensure that their patients continued to receive the best possible care,” he said.

“Dr Mangala Wickramasinghe, a Registrar in Logan mental health, cancelled leave and attended Logan Hospital to cover staff who could not come to work due to road closures.

“Another staff member who is in the SES was involved in a dramatic rescue. Like so many people in the community these staff represent the wonderful contribution of the community to support others who were in need,” he said.

“Mark Cave who works in our Deafness and Mental Health team can often been spotted beside the Premier signing during a disaster.”

He said there were many resources available to help cope in times of crisis and that many adults were concerned about the effects of disasters on children, including the consequences of exposure of children to distressing images.

“Parents and carers can help by answering children’s questions honestly, acknowledging concerns and fears and helping children understand how they are protected,” he said.

Phoenix Australia has produced 'Looking after yourself and your family after a disaster' which is a guide to help adults understand the difference between a normal reaction to stress and signs that extra help may be needed.

Education Queensland’s student service have produced a comprehensive website relating to disasters and information about mental health services can be found at Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services website.

Last updated 19 August 2021
Last reviewed 13 October 2016

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