However, after the initial emergency passes, a much longer process of recovering and rebuilding begins. For individuals, families and communities, this can last months or even years. This work often begins at the same time as the national media starts packing up and public attention shifts to the next major news story.
At the University of Missouri’s Disaster and Community Crisis Center, we study disaster recovery, rebuilding and resilience. Much of our research shows that natural disasters can have a meaningful impact on survivors’ mental and behavioral health. These issues typically emerge as people try to recover and move forward after the devastation.
Health and disasters
Immediately after a natural disaster, it’s normal to experience fear, anxiety, sadness or shock. However, if these symptoms continue for weeks to months following the event, they may indicate a more serious psychological issue.
The disaster mental health problem most commonly studied by psychologists and psychiatrists is post-traumatic stress disorder, which can occur after frightening events that threaten one’s own…