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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 210-216

Immediate Mental Health Response to Kerala Floods 2018 Victims

1 Department of Psychiatry, Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences, Thiruvalla, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Praveenlal Kuttichira
Department of Psychiatry, Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute, Thrissur - 680 005, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/WSP.WSP_22_19

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During 2018 monsoon, Kerala received 256% excess of rainfall resulting in floods affecting 5.4 million people, leaving 483 dead, 14 missing, and 140 hospitalized. The UN estimated a loss of Indian National Rupees 310,000 million. Our teams worked from the affected sites to the relief camps. As the disaster struck rapidly, prompt actions were taken based on quick assumptions. Mental health teams exposed to disaster preparedness manual and worked in tandem with health workers. Medical student volunteers indulged children in recreational activities. Feedbacks of their experiences were collected. Status in the rehabilitation centers was ascertained systematically, and services rendered were recorded. Postgraduate students of mental health discipline were trained using the WHO Tool Problem Management Plus (PM+), and their feedback was gathered. About 2086 people from 296 households in the relief camp were studied. Medicines were refilled for the psychiatric patients and psychological first aid was offered to those in distress; all of them had sought mental health services openly. Alcohol withdrawal syndromes observed were not severe. Children emboldened the adults. Out of the 13 long-term care centers, inmates had to be shifted out in three. PM+ workshop was rated beneficial by the participants. This is the report of experiences and action from the affected sites from day 1 of disaster. When hit by disaster, stigma against mental illness becomes less conspicuous. Expeditious orientation in disaster preparedness is feasible and advantageous for mental health professionals. Children are pivotal for suicide prevention in adults. Unlicensed care centers pose delay in providing support. Inclusion of disaster preparedness and intervention modules in the curriculum is to be considered.

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