Mental Health Wellness After a Disaster
Our community has recently experienced a devasting event with the Marshall and Middle Fork fires. We all react to such unplanned events in different ways and at different times. It is important that we take care, not only of our physical well-being, but our emotional and mental well-being as well. Being aware of what this may entail is the first step in helping the victims.
The Colorado wildfires created a swift and dramatic loss of property and possessions creating an immediate crisis for victims. Yet the deeply felt losses that will follow from this “main” physical loss — the “secondary losses” — are incredibly important to recognize as well.
When someone loses their home, they must not only adjust to the loss of the house itself but also the memories and familiarities that it contained.
Even those of us who did not lose our home but live here are affected. We may experience strong feelings of loss, missing the way our community used to be and the people who have been displaced. At the same time, we may feel “survivor guilt” or dismiss our emotions entirely, reasoning that other individuals have lost so much more.
Once we have acknowledged the losses we have suffered, then we can concentrate on healing. For each person the healing process is different. However, consider the following basic recommendations to help protect yourselves:
1. Stay with friends, if possible, instead of at a shelter.
2. Keep your normal routine as normal as possible
3. Acknowledge that disasters can cause loss.
4. Recognize and address emotional injury. This often surfaces after the initial shock has passed. Symptoms include anxiety, depression, and mood swings, as well as difficulty thinking, working, and sleeping. Talk to caring friends.
Following is a list of resources that may prove to be helpful to you and your family as we learn to cope with this tragedy:
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), can help people with their insurance questions whether this be health insurance or home and auto: