A team of mental health experts from the National Institute of Mental Health And Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru, under the guidance of Dr K Sekar, Professor in the Psychiatric Social Work Department, is working to provide mental health support and aid to victims of the floods in Kodagu.
“Many of the people are bound to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is normal given the situation that they are in,” explains Dr BN Gangadar, Director and Vice-Chancellor at NIMHANS. “Depending on stress levels and each individual’s resilience, this is something which usually goes away on its own. However, what we are doing now is giving them that extra emotional and moral support.”
While he emphasises that physical support is important, he feels that not enough has been done in the past to address the mindset of people who are victims of such situations.
“We are bound to see depression and a number of other issues in the affected people. They might have lost their homes or seen people die in landslides; that kind of trauma leaves an impact and by providing them with the appropriate guidance, we can help them overcome these things,” adds Dr Gangadar.
While a team of around 19 members – consisting of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers among others – has been sent to Kodagu, they will also be working to train others who will be able to work at a grassroots level to provide basic counselling to those who’ve suffered psychological trauma.
“Another team is already in Kerala, working to provide the same relief measures in the camps there. These were people who have been trained by NIMHANS and happened to be working on a different assignment in the state, but have been called on for this purpose and have been sent to the relief camps,” Dr Gangadar tells TNM.