Psychologists fear for cyclone survivors mental health


By Thabi Mwenifumbo:

Psychologists say Malawi should not forget the mental wellbeing of Tropical Cyclone Freddy survivors, saying counselling is as important as the food-and non-food items the people are getting.

Psychologist Chioza Bandawe cited post-traumatic stress as one of the conditions that could crop up in some of the survivors.


“For instance, those affected could have nightmares, flashbacks and can be prone to anxiety and depression.

“We must not only be concerned about what the people have lost physically but also their mental health. Some will be in a numb state, which can affect their day-to-day life. They can experience fear and will withdraw and want to be alone,” Bandawe said.

He further said mental services should be provided to those affected so that they can process what they have been through.


Psychologist John Kuyokwa concurred with Bandawe, saying, considering that things happened in the blink of an eye, it could take time for some people to process what happened.

“This experience can be quite traumatic but can be approached by looking at their physiological needs such as accommodation, security and so on.

“However, within the camps, it is important that if anyone is showing some abnormal behaviour, they must be reported to the nearest health centre so that they get assistance. It’s important that these individuals are given support, even just by spending some time with them talking because, at this point, some of them may feel like they have no future after losing everything to the cyclone,” Kuyokwa said.

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