Reach out to traumatised flood victims, say experts


KUALA LUMPUR: Floods which wreaked havoc in eight states together with Selangor and several other districts in Pahang and Negri Sembilan lately, can have a life-altering impression on the people and households lucky sufficient to survive them.

Malaysia’s worst flooding in years, which displaced hundreds of individuals from their houses, broken properties and killed 48 individuals as of Monday, can have deep impacts on the victims mentally and emotionally.

According to the Psychiatric Counsellor & Director of Clinical Centre of Excellence on the Management and Science University (MSU) Prof Dr Muhammad Najib Mohamad Alwi, the psychological response to the catastrophic catastrophe would significantly depend upon a person’s resilience, that’s his or her skill to bounce again and return to regular.

He mentioned, some flood victims who skilled lack of property and lack of their households, can nonetheless be calm amidst the calamity and had been already again on their ft, together with repairing their broken houses and automobiles.

However, as compared, some people are usually not even prepared for a minor disruption, reminiscent of being stranded by the roadside, not to mention a serious catastrophe, inflicting them to expertise stress and even frustration.

“Other components which can decide the psychological response of a person in the direction of such a calamity embrace previous expertise with disasters, self-efficacy amid strain, events accountable for the catastrophe and their disaster preparedness.

“For those that have had comparable experiences, the trauma and reminiscences could also be too overwhelming and quite than shifting ahead, they continue to be caught within the trauma. When this occurs, the person experiences an acute stress response or acute stress dysfunction. Or, maybe, their previous experiences have made them calmer, stronger and are ready for any eventualities,” he mentioned.

“Those with sturdy resilience are much less possible to be impacted by the huge floods and might instantly adapt to the present scenario and search the perfect options introduced on by the floods,” he informed Bernama lately.


Dr Muhammad Najib additionally mentioned that in or within the aftermath of a catastrophe, there’s a tendency for a person to level an accusing finger at sure quarters as portrayed within the social media.

The blame sport on who must be accountable for the current devastating floods performs a vital function in figuring out the psychological impression of disasters on people.

He mentioned that based mostly on a psychological response examine on disasters, an incident which is seen as being brought on by environmental components (pure causes) are comparatively simply acceptable by victims in contrast to disasters that are perceived as deliberate or due to the faults or the insensitive angle of sure quarters.

“According to a number of different research, if a catastrophe is taken into account inevitable, such because the flooding within the east coast of the peninsula in the course of the annual monsoon season, the psychological impression will probably be minimal.

“On the opposite hand, when an enormous flooding takes place in non-flood-prone areas and the victims consider that the ordeal will not be attributed to pure causes, however due to lack of presidency monitoring in the direction of extra logging actions and haphazard unplanned growth, the consequences of anger and strain confronted could worsen.

“However, not everybody, who’s uncovered to disasters will really feel the impression psychologically. As an instance, my joint examine with my colleagues on Sabah earthquake victims in 2015 discovered that about 54 per cent of victims confronted psychological results and after virtually 5 months, the impression is lowered to about eight per cent solely,” he mentioned.

According to Dr Muhammad Najib, a examine on floods in Terengganu in 2014 confirmed that the catastrophe preparedness together with the power to adapt to new conditions, the social help from relations and joint collective effort from the group have significantly lowered the psychological impacts of the individuals from the catastrophe, he mentioned.


When a pure catastrophe occurs, victims within the line of fireplace can lose their family members, their houses, and all of their property.

In the midst of emotional turmoil, phrases of consolation from household and shut pals are usually appreciated. Emotional help by energetic listening might help cut back their stress, and the individuals ought to supply assist in their hour of want.

“Assistance may be prolonged within the type of meals, place to keep, clothings, and so forth, and check out to assist them get in contact with their households and shut pals if communication strains are minimize off (due to floods). Besides that, keep away from giving rhetoric statements reminiscent of ‘At least you are still alive’, ‘I’m stunned that you simply’re nonetheless alive’, ‘that is all kifarah (karma), ‘ ‘could all of your sins….’

“This doesn’t imply that the statements are incorrect however within the present scenario, it is probably not appropriate because the victims want time to settle for the tragedy that has befallen them,” he mentioned.

Dr Muhammad Najib nevertheless mentioned, if the sufferer exhibits excessive nervousness signs reminiscent of screaming and extended or uncontrollable crying, rapid assist must be given to them by educated volunteers reminiscent of counsellors, medical psychologists or psychiatrists.

So far, a complete of 872 volunteer counsellors registered with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry have been deployed to seven flood-hit states, in accordance to a Bernama report on Dec 23.

Some of the psychological penalties of stress embrace acute stress dysfunction (ASD), post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD) and adjustment dysfunction (AD).

“ASD shares comparable traits as PTSD. The predominant signs embrace flashbacks, upsetting nightmares, avoiding confronting some traumatic occasions, damaging moods together with melancholy and overly emotional, panic, simply shocked, reminiscence loss and emotional numbness.

“The solely distinction is, ASD often takes place solely within the rapid aftermath of the tragedy and is simply short-term, whereas PTSD signs are extended for greater than a month and generally begins after a sure interval of the catastrophe. Both conditions want consideration and monitoring by psychological well being professionals,” he mentioned, including that AD exhibits depressive signs, restlessness, and so forth, that are quite gentle however nonetheless disturbs the each day routines of the particular person and requires skilled intervention.


Reminding the people who the Covid-19 pandemic is way from over, he mentioned the dangers of an infection are excessive throughout floods as this can be very troublesome to totally adjust to the usual working procedures (SOP) in conditions when everyone seems to be preventing for their very own survival and salvaging their property together with when they’re housed at flood reduction centres (PPS).

Furthermore, most victims are nonetheless within the means of recovering from the publish Covid-19 pandemic psychosocial results.

Hence, he mentioned, amid the difficult situation, flood victims, volunteers, politicians and all members of the group ought to attempt to maximise SOP compliance.

“For those that could also be confronted with excessive nervousness, flood victims can take consolation in realizing that the majority adults within the nation are totally vaccinated and lots of have acquired their booster pictures. As such, the chance of an infection or being in essential classes of three, 4 and 5, is sort of low,” he mentioned.

Additionally, he mentioned, the burden confronted by flood victims may be lowered by holistic rehabilitation of the susceptible inhabitants by cleansing of homes, distribution of meals and cash, by each the federal government and the group.

Dr Muhammad Najib mentioned, floods of this magnitude ought to function classes for all, as growth initiatives have to consider environmental components reminiscent of international warming results, local weather change and overflow of inland water.Flash floods are usually related to comparatively small catchment areas the place they might be little or no everlasting circulation of water.


Meanwhile, Dr Shawaludin Husin, who’s an occupational well being physician and President Of the Malaysian Society for Occupational Safety and Health (MSOSH), mentioned the floods additionally affected staff and employers, together with those that are self-employed, who’re possible to be steadily traumatised particularly throughout and the aftermath of the tragedy.

Besides the monetary points that must be thought of, given the enormity of the tumultuous flood’s harm at house and on the office, the working teams and the affected employers may have extra time to bounce again and return to regular.

“For many victims, the current flooding was unprecedented and caught them off-guard. Some had been traumatised after going by the ordeal as they had been left hungry and chilly for hours on the rooftop of their houses earlier than the rescue groups arrived. These embrace senior residents, girls within the post-partum interval and people with persistent sicknesses.

“The first expertise of getting to keep on the PPS within the early levels of the floods which had been disorganised, was additionally traumatic for victims who had been uncomfortable with the brand new atmosphere. Post-floods had been additionally unhappy episodes for the victims as they witnessed damages to their houses and workplaces, inflicting some to face excessive fatigue after cleansing up their premises,” he mentioned.

Dr Shawaludin mentioned, that is the place tolerance must be rigorously fostered between each the employees and employers. For the previous, they’d have to take a protracted go away to clear up their home and make the required preparations whereas the latter is confronted with insurmountable losses because the machines and premises have been badly affected by the floods.

“There must be two-way communication between each side. This is the time when the employees in addition to the employer ought to attempt to perceive one another’s scenario.

The employer may think about giving emergency go away or compassionate for the employees whereas the worker must be prepared to assist the employer in serving to the corporate to bounce again.

Working by an issue and arising with a win-win scenario for everybody actually might help to make a working relationship stronger and advantages each events.

“There are classes to be discovered from such a disaster. Flood victims want comforting phrases and help from the group, relations and shut pals. Physical help particularly monetary support is essential on this scenario, together with offering primary requirements reminiscent of meals, milk for infants and younger kids, disposable pampers, clothings, and so forth.

“What’s worrying is the psychological impression of the devastating floods may set off bigger conflicts, if not correctly managed. These embrace husband-wife preventing, deserted kids and stress at office for both staff or employers,” he mentioned including that help must be bodily and mentally balanced. – Bernama

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