Belizeans’ Mental Health Crumbling Under the Impacts of Lisa
Coping with mental challenges in and of itself is hard and for many people who lost a lot during Hurricane Lisa, managing stress is difficult. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has issued an advisory on how we can manage some of these challenges and tonight, Giovanna Moguel hears from an expert on the subject. Here’s her story.
Giovanna Moguel, Love News: Anguished, overwhelmed, and stressed – are but some of the words that can be used to describe how most Belizeans are feeling at this time. Hurricane Lisa’s victims have been left to pick up the pieces of their lives that she so violently shattered. And, each blown-off zinc or uprooted tree that is collected from the streets, is a staunch reminder of all they have lost in the storm. But, we’re not talking about just tangible losses…because many survivors have also lost their sense of comfort, peace and hope in the wake of this devasting storm. Psychiatrist at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Alejandro Matus says these emotions are normal and disappear after a period of time.
Dr.Alejandro Matus, Psychiatrist, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “Usually this anxiety is normal. All this stress that people feel after hurricanes is normal stress that all the people have after some disaster. Usually after a disaster maybe after one, two weeks you can be recovered after one, two weeks. It depends on every person but usually it takes one, two, three weeks maximum.”
Giovanna Moguel, Love News: According to the Ministry’s mental health experts, children, adolescents, and senior citizens are high on the list of concerns in the aftermath of a natural disaster. And, while each individual has a different response to traumatic events, Dr. Matus says that if the negative thoughts and feelings do not subside after a few weeks, it might be signs of something beyond regular sadness.
Dr.Alejandro Matus, Psychiatrist, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “If you feel that after one month you have anxiety, a lot of stress, many worries, difficulty to sleep, difficulty to eat and or stressful memories about the hurricane after one month I recommend to get some help.”
Giovanna Moguel, Love News: Coping with these feelings yourself or even trying to aid your loved ones in their own recovery journey can be difficult. Fortunately, Dr. Matus says there are a couple of ways to manage them.
Dr.Alejandro Matus, Psychiatrist, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “After hurricanes the Ministry of Health gives some advice to the population how to deal with this, how to cope with this situation. Maybe we can give some recommendations like for example we try to establish routines. We recommend to the people to reestablish routines, the normal daily activities because this can give structure of the life and then the people feel that they can control at least the daily activities and then the other advice that we give is to avoid the use of alcohol and drugs and rest properly and get enough sleep and spend time with the family. This easy advice can help a lot to decrease this anxiety.”
Giovanna Moguel, Love News: The Ministry also has a cadre of psychiatric specialists and other mental health professionals at the ready who can help. You can contact the Ministry of Health and Wellness at 822-2325 or 822-2363 for more information. Giovanna Moguel for Love News.