Much has been reported about the devastation and anguish in Haiti after the tragic earthquake, but thousands of survivors are suffering emotionally without mental health professionals to help them deal with the trauma. Recognized New York clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Kuriansky was in Haiti soon after the tragedy to answer this much overlooked need.
“The survival needs are so extensive with people desperately requiring food, water and medical care that the psychological damage is put aside,” stated Dr. Judy. “Research and clinical experience in such disasters proved that survivors suffer emotionally and need attention to their psychological trauma.”
To address this situation, Dr. Judy arrived in Haiti five days after the quake with Haitian Catholic priest Father Wismick Jean Charles to assess the mental health needs of the people. At the local hospital where their support station was set up, Dr. Judy encountered a group of Boy Scouts and immediately recruited them to be “comforters” to soothe the wounded minds and souls of hundreds of patients lined on blankets outside.
“Since so many people were in pain with limited professional staff to give them attention, the Boy Scouts filled an important role in showing the survivors that someone cared,” says Dr. Judy. The Boy Scouts were taught how to comfort patients with simple techniques used by even experienced mental health professionals.
Dr. Judy, who has offered “psychological first aid” to survivors of many past disasters like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami, notes that people without professional training can be enlisted to give emotional support. “While research shows that a certain percentage of people do suffer severe reactions diagnosed as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” says Dr. Judy, “majority of people, especially right after a disaster, need to feel they are not alone and be offered support.”
In helping others, the Boy Scouts themselves are also helped. As one Scout said, “When I aid others, I feel helped myself.”
Roger Schrimp, chairman of the Boy Scouts of America’s International Committee, brings attention to the contribution of Scouts in such tragedies by stating, ” ‘On my honor, I will do my best!’ is a pledge that each of us has taken as a Scout.”
Visit www.drjudy.com for Haiti pictures.
Source: OneWorld Experience, LLC. Press Release.
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