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May 28, 2010

Welsh Institue of Health and Social Care Blog
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» Disasters and WIHSC

On average, a major disaster occurs every day somewhere in the world. There are many, many more minor disasters and incidents and other traumatic events. Typically, the news media, whether international, national, regional or local, focus on events that are disastrous to some group of people.

These kinds of events challenge us if we are involved directly or because we know someone who is, and the suffering, distress and worry, in other words the psychosocial price and the mental health consequences may be huge. However, there is another side to disasters; they may bring out the best in societies, portray the enormous altruism of most people and groups of people, and show their great personal psychosocial resilience and the resilience of families and other collectives. At the most positive end of this spectrum, some people even describe ‘post-traumatic growth’ that appears to be independent of their distress and suffering at the time and afterwards.

Better understanding the psychosocial and mental health aspects of disasters, major incidents, war and terrorism, including how people experience both extreme events and the smaller and less recognised challenges of life describes a stream of work that is now core to WIHSC’s portfolio. We have created relationships within the university with its cross-faculty initiative that has already seen creation of a chair in disaster studies. Also, we have forged alliances with other academic institutions and service agencies to research this field.

We are working with and advising several governments about their contingency policies and the countries’ preparedness, sustainable workforce development, and communication with and preparation of communities prior to, during and after events. We are researching the nature of psychosocial resilience and how societies can strengthen and assist people, families and communities before events and support them better in their recovery afterwards. We have worked with an international group to identity the principles of good and effective post-disaster psychosocial and mental healthcare. We have made substantial contributions to the following reports, Psychosocial Care for People affected by Disasters and Major Events and Principles for Disaster and Major Incident Psychosocial care.

We will post updates on our work on this site from time to time.

Written by Richard Williams, Professor of Mental Health Strategy

» Disasters and WIHSC

On average, a major disaster occurs every day somewhere in the world. There are many, many more minor disasters and incidents and other traumatic events. Typically, the news media, whether international, national, regional or local, focus on events that are disastrous to some group of people.

These kinds of events challenge us if we are involved directly or because we know someone who is, and the suffering, distress and worry, in other words the psychosocial price and the mental health consequences may be huge. However, there is another side to disasters; they may bring out the best in societies, portray the enormous altruism of most people and groups of people, and show their great personal psychosocial resilience and the resilience of families and other collectives. At the most positive end of this spectrum, some people even describe ‘post-traumatic growth’ that appears to be independent of their distress and suffering at the time and afterwards.

Better understanding the psychosocial and mental health aspects of disasters, major incidents, war and terrorism, including how people experience both extreme events and the smaller and less recognised challenges of life describes a stream of work that is now core toWIHSC’s portfolio. We have created relationships within the university with its cross-faculty initiative that has already seen creation of a chair in disaster studies. Also, we have forged alliances with other academic institutions and service agencies to research this field.

We are working with and advising several governments about their contingency policies and the countries’ preparedness, sustainable workforce development, and communication with and preparation of communities prior to, during and after events. We are researching the nature of psychosocial resilience and how societies can strengthen and assist people, families and communities before events and support them better in their recovery afterwards. We have worked with an international group to identity the principles of good and effective post-disaster psychosocial and mental healthcare. We have made substantial contributions to the following reports, Psychosocial Care for People affected by Disasters and Major Events and Principles for Disaster and Major Incident Psychosocial care.

We will post updates on our work on this site from time to time.

Written by Richard Williams, Professor of Mental Health Strategy

May 10, 2010

Welsh Institue of Health and Social Care Blog
wihsc
is about »
» Taking Liberties

This, in retirement, is what I do one way or another every day, as well as every couple of weeks or so. And the taking of liberties brings, in turn, unbridled joy alongside deep, conflicting thoughts.

Never have I had so much freedom – to spend rewarding times with people I like and love; to enjoy, in my own way a pace, the physical and intellectual challenges of cultivation; and, essentially, to own my in-tray and change it’s order without catastrophe following. Every day is a good day, and for this I have freedom and autonomy to think.

But what a contrast is the lot of those I meet as I chair Mental Health Managers Hearings. Often they ‘choose’ not to come: their mental state will not allow them to appear in a room filled with those who, by personal experience or the recounting of others, will report verbally on the intimate details of their lives as though they were not present, and conclude overwhelmingly and, it seems, unanimously – whether managers or professionals – that ‘it would be best for you to stay here and be helped’. This, and the ‘need for the public and yourself to be protected’, signals a door never really half open is about to close again. Next, the Tribunal; but at least skilled representation is assured this time, rather than at best, and then infrequently, only a lay advocate.

In one life the continuous and almost total opportunity and power to fulfil my own ends and determine the journey towards them. In the other, suspending liberties – putting them into limbo. The one brings the other into sharp and uncomfortable relief.

Written by Morton Warner, Emeritus Professor, WIHSC