Help for Children Affected by Recent Natural Disasters
2 April 2013 at 10:14 am
Depression Not for Profit, beyondblue, is delivering a new publication to help children who are experiencing emotional and behavioural problems following recent fires, floods and storms.
The organisation is providing a free copy of A Road Less Travelled: A Guide to Children, Emotions and Disasters to health professionals, teachers and community workers in disaster-affected areas or areas prone to such events.
The book’s authors, beyondblue Board member and psychiatrist at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital Professor Brett McDermott and Clinical Psychologist at Mater Hospital and University of Queensland academic Associate Professor Vanessa Cobham, are two of Australia’s leading experts in child and adolescent mental health following trauma and disaster.
The book is based on their work following several natural disasters in Australia, including the Canberra bushfires in 2003, Cyclone Larry in 2005 and the Queensland floods in 2011.
Professor McDermott said disaster-related mental health problems had not been well understood in the past, especially the reactions of children and adolescents.
“There is a range of normal reactions that people may have after facing floods, fires or storms,” he said. “Unfortunately, many children in severely affected areas can have symptoms and parents should monitor any changes in behaviour,” he said.
Professor McDermott said some of the behaviours adults should look for in children and adolescents in the months following the event include:
- being more anxious and avoiding the things or places they usually enjoy
- feeling sadder than normal and appearing withdrawn
- changes in their daily living routine, such as their sleeping and eating patterns
- changes in their level of functioning such as their school performance and their ability to cope with the normal stressors of life
- specific issues such as nightmares related to the event, or clear anxiety when faced with a reminder of the frightening event.
“If parents, teachers and other health professionals are seeing these types of symptoms in their children, I encourage them to think about whether the symptoms may be related to the disaster,” he said.
“If you think they could be disaster-related, I would encourage concerned professionals to order a free copy of this book. If parents are concerned and want to seek help for their child, taking them to see their GP, or a school guidance professional or another health professional are excellent options.”
Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said beyondblue is distributing the book free of charge to help support families by supporting people who are working directly with children in disaster-affected areas.
To order a copy of A Road Less Travelled: A Guide to Children, Emotions and Disasters, please email your name, job title and postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 07 3163 3883.
For more information on depression and anxiety, contact the beyondblue support service on 1300 22 4636.