This blog is dedicated to integrate psychosocial support before, during and after a disaster into the Project Cycle. Theoretical view points from the literatue in psychiatry, psychology, sociology, environment, spirituality and anthropology will be introduced. Case studies will be shared from the authors experience in the Americas and South Asia.
refers to the emotional reaction of a person when they realize that they are
experiencing an event for which they are not physically equipped to manage successfully.
There are three central factors in psychosocial support: behavioral, spiritual
and social. The behavioral part is usually addressed with behavioral health
strategies (i.e. crisis intervention, counseling or psychological first aid).
Spiritual care is often a component used to address death and destruction. The
social component emerges after the immediate crisis and last for a longer
period of time, and it usually alleviates the traumatic stress as a result of
secondary stressors (i.e. returning to normalcy, re-establishment of place,
reconstruction of neighborhood and homes, and assisting the recovery efforts in
I write this commentary there are search and rescue activities going on. We are
not sure how hard the tornadoes hit, but we know there are some very specific
actions that need to take place in the next days, weeks and months. Below are six
·Alleviate fear by facilitating linking with
family, neighbors, community and friends.
·Assure safety and security through satisfying
basic needs, providing shelter, and initiate behavioral health and spiritual
care activities that promote calmness.
·Engage disaster affected people in conducting
assessment of the affected area, focusing on prioritizing the need for natural
and built structures that are needed to begin the recovery process (i.e.
school, day care, hospital, senior center, churches, and community stores).
·Disaster affected people identify their
immediate needs and received assistance with temporary shelter, neighborhood cleanup
campaigns, and defining steps in the recovery. This will provide guidance to
external partners and interested people.
·Promote Neighbor-to-Neighbor psychosocial
support, and activities for children, the elderly and those with functional
·Take time to rest, through celebrations and
information. At first of the little steps to recovery and later community wide
celebrations, fairs, and other collaborative activities.
This is a time when the affected community needs external
assistance, however in the coming days and weeks recovery should be people
centric. Giving a voice at the decision making table to the affected neighbors
will go a long way to enhancing resilience, and promoting physical, spiritual
and psychological well being.
 Dr. Prewitt Diaz (firstname.lastname@example.org) has over 30 years of experience in community
recovery post-disasters. He served as Senior Psychosocial Advisor for a major
INGO during the recovery after the 2004 South Asia Tsunami, and was awarded the
2008 APA International Humanitarian Award. He is the CEO of the Center for
Psychosocial Support in Disasters