Preventive and Therapeutic Mental Health Care after the Earthquake- Expert Opinion from the Psychiatric Association of Turkey

Mevhibe İrem YILDIZ, Ayşe Devrim BAŞTERZİ, Ejder Akgün YILDIRIM, Şahika YÜKSEL, Ahmet Tamer AKER, Bengi SEMERCİ, Süleyman ÇAKIROĞLU, Yankı YAZGAN, Mustafa SERCAN, Burcu Rahşan ERİM, İlker KÜÇÜKPARLAK, Münevver HACIOĞLU YILDIRIM
2023 34(1): 39-49
DOI: 10.5080/u27305
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Two major earthquakes hit Turkey at the Kahramanmaraş region
on February 6th 2023. The earthquakes affected almost 15 million
individuals, resulting in more than forty thousand deaths, thousands
of wounded and the destruction of ancient cities of humankind.
Immediately after the earthquakes, the Psychiatric Association of Turkey
organized an educational event to address the needs for a guidance
on how to approach a trauma of such a big scale. The experts in this
educational event summarized their presentations and prepared this
review to guide the mental health professionals serving victims of this
disaster. The review summarizes the early symptoms of trauma, and puts
a framework on the principles of psychological first aid, the approach
at the initial stages of the disaster, principles of planning, triage, and
psychosocial support systems and the proper use of medications. The
text covers the evaluation of the impact of trauma, aligning psychiatric
practice with psychosocial interventions, the improvement of counseling
skills and methods to better understand the mind during the acute post
trauma phase. A set of presentations highlight the challenges in child
psychiatry, brings a systematic overview to the earthquake and discuss
the symptomatology, first aid and intervention principles in children
and adolescents. Last, the forensic psychiatric perspective is presented,
followed by a piece on the essentials of delivering bad news and the
review is concluded with the emphasis on burnout, a syndrome to avoid
particularly for field professionals, and possible preventive measures.
Keywords: Disaster, trauma, psychosocial support, psychological first
aid, acute stress disorder, post traumatic stress disorder