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Preparing and Responding to Technological and Ecological Disasters

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Preparing and Responding to Technological and Ecological Disasters Philip J. Lazarus, Ph.D. Florida International University Frank Zenere, Ed.S. Miami-Dade County ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Preparing and Responding to Technological and Ecological Disasters


1
Preparing and Responding to Technological and
Ecological Disasters
Philip J. Lazarus, Ph.D. Florida International
University Frank Zenere, Ed.S. Miami-Dade
County Public Schools Ted Feinberg, Ph.D.
National Association of School
Psychologists Retired
2
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill 2010
3
WHAT HAPPENS
  • Crisis and trauma throw people so far out of
    their range of balance that it is difficult to
    quickly restore equilibrium.
  • Crisis reactions may be precipitated by either
    acute or chronic stress.
  • Acute stress is caused by sudden, arbitrary and
    often random event.
  • Chronic stress occurs repeatedly over time with
    each recurrence further challenging a persons
    adaptive resources.

4
THE CRISIS RESPONSETHE SHORT-TERM CRISIS
REACTION
  • The normal human response to trauma follows a
    similar pattern called the crisis reaction It
    occurs across gender, ethnicity, age and culture.

5
THE PHYSICAL RESPONSE
  • Exhaustion
  • Physical arousal associated with the fight or
    flight syndrome cannot be prolonged indefinitely
    and results in physical exhaustion.
  • Chronically high anxiety levels can lead to
    feeling burned out
  • Caregiver Reaction
  • Production of chemical oxytocin, primarily in
    women, may produce a Tend and Befriend reaction
    as an effort to protect children or loved ones.

6
THE EMOTIONAL REACTION
  • Our emotional reactions are heightened by our
    physical response
  • Stage 1 Shock, disbelief and denial
  • Stage 2 Cataclysm of emotions including
    anger/rage, fear/terror, sorrow/grief,
    confusion/frustration, self blame/guilt
  • Stage 3 Reconstruction of equilibrium the
    emotional roller coaster that seeks balance

7
KEY CONCEPTS OF DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH
  • No one who sees a disaster is untouched by it.
  • There are two types of disaster trauma (a)
    individual and (b) collective.
  • Most people pull together and function during and
    after a disaster but their effectiveness is
    diminished.
  • Disaster can bring people together, enhancing
    community cohesion, solidarity, and unity.
  • Disaster stress and grief reactions are normal
    responses to an abnormal situation.

8
KEY CONCEPTS OF DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH
  • Many emotional reactions of disaster victims stem
    from problems of living caused by the disaster.
  • Disaster relief procedures have been called The
    Second Disaster.
  • Most people do not see themselves as needing
    mental health services following disaster, and
    will not seek out such services.

9
KEY CONCEPTS OF DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH
  • Individuals may reject disaster assistance of all
    types.
  • Disaster mental health assistance is often more
    practical than psychological in nature.
  • Disaster mental health services must be uniquely
    tailored to the communities they serve.

10
KEY CONCEPTS OF DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH
  • Mental health staff need to set aside traditional
    methods, avoid the use of mental health labels,
    and use an active outreach approach to intervene
    successfully in disaster.
  • Survivors respond with active interest and
    concern.
  • Sensitivity to cultural factors, unique regional
    characteristics, and individual differences

11
KEY CONCEPTS OF DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH
  • Interventions must be appropriate to the phase of
    the disaster.
  • Support systems are crucial to recovery.
  • Minimize economic (e.g., occupational, income),
    physical (property, possessions), social (e.g.,
    family, friends), personal (e.g., personal
    beliefs), psychological (e.g., identity), and
    emotional losses

12
THE EXXON-VALDEZ OIL SPILL
13
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE EXXON-VALDEZ OIL SPILL
  • On March 24, 1989, the supertanker Exxon Valdez
    ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William
    Sound, Alaska.
  • Largest oil spill in North America. Approximately
    42 million liters of oil was released into
    valuable commercial fishing grounds.
  • 13 communities affected.
  • Long term effects Ecological effects for a
    decade or more.
  • The disaster is just the beginning of a cascading
    set of challenges and stressors.

14
THE EXXON-VALDEZ OIL SPILL AFTERMATH
  • Greater exposure to the spill was associated with
    greater disruptions in psychosocial functioning
  • The "dose-response" relationship
  • The greater the dose (exposure to the spill) the
    greater the negative effects
  • One-year post spill
  • 20 had generalized anxiety disorder
  • 9 had post-traumatic stress disorder
  • 17 had major depression disorder
  • Alaskan Natives displayed elevated risk for
    experiencing psychosocial problems

15
THE EXXON-VALDEZ OIL SPILL AFTERMATH
  • One year post-spill
  • Declines in social relationships with friends,
    neighbors, coworkers
  • Increases in drug and alcohol abuse
  • Increases in domestic violence
  • Increases in physical health problems
  • Family support buffered the effects of the spill
    on psychosocial functioning

16
THE EXXON-VALDEZ OIL SPILL AFTERMATH
  • Fishing communities were hit the hardest
  • Loss of revenue totaled 155 million
  • Total collapse of local herring and salmon
    fishing industry
  • The income loss spiral
  • Greater losses (e.g., discretionary income,
    employment, having to sell possessions) were
    associated with disruptions in psychosocial
    functioning

17
THE EXXON-VALDEZ OIL SPILL AFTERMATH
  • Long-term effects on fishing communities
  • 6-years post spill
  • 23 of men and 13 of women had clinically
    significant anxiety
  • 39 of men and 20 of men had depression
  • 34 of male fishers and 40 of female fishers had
    a high number of PTSD symptoms

18
HEALTH EFFECTS OF OIL CONTAMINATION
  • Acute symptoms
  • Skin irritation, itchy eyes, scratchy throat,
    headaches, dizziness, chronic pain, nausea,
    respiratory problems
  • Increases in genotoxicity (i.e., cell poisoning)
  • Associated with higher cancer rates
  • Endocrine problems
  • Alterations in hormone levels
  • Blood toxicity

19
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22
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TECHNOLOGICAL/ECOLOGICAL AND
NATURAL DISASTERS
  • Lighting a fire vs. heating up an oven
  • Trauma associated with natural disasters is more
    acute but effects generally dissipate more
    quickly
  • Trauma associated with technological/ecological
    disasters is less acute but effects may exist for
    decades
  • Technological/ecological disasters have a
    long-term corrosive effect on communities

23
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TECHNOLOGICAL/ECOLOGICAL
AND NATURAL DISASTERS
  • People can struggle over whom to blame for
    causing a technological/ecological disaster
  • Cleanup and relief efforts often are hampered by
    slow legislation and litigationextends the
    recovery period for victims
  • Victims often become suspicious and cynical
  • Authorities and community leaders often are
    blamed, scapegoated, or criticized for being
    unresponsive

24
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TECHNOLOGICAL/ECOLOGICAL
AND NATURAL DISASTERS
  • Instead of volunteering to help with recovery
    efforts, people may expect companies to do all
    the work
  • This slows down the recovery
  • Disaster response is not lucrative for guilty
    companies
  • Similarly, people may not donate needed funds or
    resources because they believe the company should
    pay

25
TRAUMA AND LOSS
  • Trauma is accompanied by a multitude of losses
  • Loss of control over ones life
  • Loss of faith in ones religious/spiritual belief
    system
  • Loss of trust in other people
  • Loss of worldview of fairness and justice

26
CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES
  • Any event resulting in an actual or perceived
    loss of resources, or a lack of expected resource
    gain, produces stress.
  • These resources may include
  • Objects (boat, house, car)
  • Personal characteristics (self-concept,
    self-esteem, identity)
  • Relationships (marriage, friendships)
  • Energies (credit, money, social capital)

27
CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES
  • Resource loss is the strongest predictor of
    psychological distress following a disaster
  • The more depleted resources become, the worse the
    adjustment
  • Depletion across multiple domains is most
    problematic
  • Depletion can be merely anticipated to cause
    significant stress

28
RESOURCE LOSS IN TECHNOLOGICAL/ECOLOGICAL
DISASTERS
  • Changes in work, having to sell possessions,
    income loss, and investment without gain (i.e.,
    taking on additional work to avoid income loss)
    is associated with anxiety and depression
  • Negative changes in relationships are associated
    with declines in physical health and depression

29
IMMEDIATE EFFECTS OF AN OIL SPILL
Help with problem-solving and exploring other
possibilities Assist with coordinating services
to meet basic needs
Adapted from Weber and Lord (2010)
30
COPING AFTER AN OIL SPILL
  • Maladaptive coping is associated with anxiety,
    depression, and PTSD
  • Avoidant coping is associated with the worst
    long-term (6 gt years) distress
  • Adaptive coping is protective, especially
  • Seeking social support
  • Cognitive restructuring

31
EFFECTS OF DISASTERS ON CHILDREN
32
TRAUMA AND REGRESSION
  • Trauma is often associated with regression to an
    earlier stage of development mentally and
    physically
  • Individuals may do things that later seem
    childish
  • Examples include loss of humor, diminished
    impulse control, free floating irritation,
    assuming a fetal position, referring to authority
    figures such as parents, law enforcement or
    administrators as mommy or daddy.

33
TRAUMA AND REGRESSION
  • Individuals may feel childish Examples include
  • Feeling small
  • Wanting someone to take care of them
  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling as if things are out of control as if one
    were a child again
  • Using language that is highly simplified
  • Withdrawing and seeking nurture
  • Being afraid to sleep alone or of the dark

34
INFLUENCES ON CHILDRENS REACTIONS TO DISASTERS
  • Factors that influence childrens reactions
    include
  • Dislocation from home or community
  • Level of parental support
  • Pre-existing risks previous traumatic experience
    or mental illness

35
TRAUMA REACTIONSPRESCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN
  • Simulate the spill in play
  • Fear eating and drinking due to contamination
    concerns
  • Anxiety and withdrawal
  • General behavioral problems
  • Regressive behaviors Thumb sucking, bedwetting,
    clinging to parents
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fear of dark
  • Loss of appetite

36
TRAUMA REACTIONSELEMENTARY-AGE CHILDREN
  • Extreme withdrawal
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Outburst of anger, irritability, aggression
  • Somatic complaints (stomach aches headaches)
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Emotional numbing
  • Nightmares, sleep difficulties
  • School avoidance
  • Fears
  • Of dark
  • Of being left alone
  • Of being separated from family
  • That something bad will happen to family
  • That they caused some part of the disaster
  • That they failed to prevent some part of the
    disaster

37
TRAUMA REACTIONSMIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL-AGE
CHILDREN
  • Sleeping and eating disturbances
  • Agitation
  • Irritability, anger, acting-out behavior
  • Delinquency
  • Physical complaints
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Withdrawal
  • Conflict with caregivers and teachers

38
LONG-TERM CRISIS REACTIONS
  • Not all victims of trauma/crisis suffer
    significantly from long-term stress reactions.
  • Many victims may continue to be reminded or
    re-experience some degree of crisis reactions
    over a longer period of time.
  • These crisis reactions are often associated with
    trigger or kindling events, environmental cues,
    that remind the person of the trauma. These cues
    can bring back the intense emotion and physical
    reactions of the original trauma.

39
LONG-TERM CRISIS REACTIONS
  • Trigger Events vary with different
    victims/survivors but may include
  • Sensing (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling,
    tasting) something similar to what one was
    acutely aware of in the original incident
  • Anniversaries of the event
  • Proximity of holidays or significant life
    events to the trauma/crisis

40
STUDENTS WHO ARE AT HIGH RISK
  • Had a high level of exposure
  • Suffered significant loss
  • Are grieving for victims
  • Relocated following the disaster
  • Had preexisting anxiety disorders or mental
    health problems
  • Had inadequate parental support
  • Are separated from their family
  • Used inadequate coping mechanisms
  • Experienced previous trauma

41
LONG-TERM CRISIS REACTIONS
  • SUMMARY
  • Victims of trauma/crisis may experience stress
    reactions for years.
  • Long-Term Stress Reactions are natural responses
    to terrible events.
  • Unresolved stress reactions may result in several
    forms of post traumatic behavior.

42
RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA
43
RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA
  • Many people live through trauma and are able to
    reconstruct their lives without additional help
  • 20/60/20 Rule
  • About 20 of those experiencing trauma will adapt
    and return to normal functioning within a short
    period of time.
  • About 60 will experience some type of stress
    reaction that will, for a period of time, impair
    functioning.
  • About 20 will suffer extensive impairment in one
    or more of their life functions.

44
RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA
  • Recovery from immediate trauma is often affected
    by the following factors
  • The severity of the incident and level of crisis
    reaction
  • The ability to understand what happened
  • The persons pre-crisis stability
  • The nature and breadth of ones support system
  • Access to help
  • The degree to which ones experience is validated
    by culture and others

45
RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA
  • Recovery issues for victims include
  • The victim gaining some meaningful perception of
    control over the event
  • Working out an understanding of the incident and,
    as needed, a redefinition of worldview and values
  • Re-establishing a sense of future and personal
    goals
  • Re-establishing a sense of meaning, integration
    of the event into a personal narrative
  • The degree to which an individual can prevent the
    loss of important tangible objects, roles,
    attachments, and feelings of connectedness and
    intimacy

46
INFLUENCES ON RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA
  • Family
  • Faith
  • Friends
  • God
  • Prayer
  • Church
  • Clergy
  • Support Groups
  • Peers
  • Purpose

47
INFLUENCES ON RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA
  • Teams and clubs
  • Sports
  • Siblings
  • Activities/hobbies
  • Music
  • Art
  • Writing/journals
  • Pets
  • Teachers
  • Medical doctors
  • Psychologists and counselors

48
INFLUENCES ON COPING
  • Parents Reaction and Family Support
  • Parents adjustment is an important factor in
    childrens adjustment
  • Relocation
  • Relocation is associated with higher levels of
    ecological distress, crowding, isolation, and
    social disruption
  • Coping Style
  • Coping responses influence the process of
    adapting to traumatic events
  • Using blame and anger as a way of coping may
    create more distress for children following
    disasters

49
HELPING CHILDREN AFTER DISASTER RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Meet and greet students
  • Remain calm and reassuring
  • Acknowledge and normalize feelings/reactions
  • Encourage expression about disaster-related
    events
  • Promote positive coping and problem-solving
    skills
  • Emphasize childrens resiliency

50
HELPING CHILDREN AFTER DISASTER RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Establish/reinforce routines and expectations.
  • Provide opportunities for children to share their
    concerns.
  • Involve children in activities that allow them to
    make choices and resume a sense of control over
    their environment.
  • Incorporate information about the disaster into
    related subject areas, as appropriate.

51
HELPING CHILDREN AFTER DISASTER RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Listen to and observe childrens behavior.
  • Be sensitive to the disruption that relocation
    may cause.
  • Consider the developmental level and unique
    experiences of each child.
  • Involve students in recovery-related
    activities/projects.
  • Identify children at risk and make a referral to
    the appropriate school or community-based
    resource.

52
HELPING CHILDREN AFTER DISASTER RESPONSES TO
QUESTIONS
  • How do I respond to students when they ask, Why
    did this happen?
  • How can I help students with their lessons?
  • How do I assist students in understanding why
    some families experienced losses while others did
    not?
  • How do I help students deal with anxieties about
    the future?

53
SUPPORTING STUDENTS AFTER DISASTERS
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TEACHERS
  • Communicate with families regularly
  • Balance academics and social/emotional learning
  • Focus on students strengths
  • Help students become better problem solvers
  • Make note of lessons learned

54
HELPING CHILDREN AFTER DISASTER SUGGESTIONS
FOR PARENTS
  • Listen to your childs concerns, anxieties and
    fears validate their feelings.
  • Offer realistic reassurances of safety and
    comfort.
  • Provide structure and routine in the home
    environment.
  • Encourage involvement in family and community
    recovery efforts.

55
HELPING CHILDREN AFTER DISASTER SUGGESTIONS
FOR PARENTS
  • Be aware of abrupt changes in your childs
    behavior make appropriate professional contacts.
  • Provide factual information and talk in hopeful
    terms regarding the future.
  • Be prepared to tolerate regressive and acting out
    behaviors during the early post disaster phase.

56
PREPARING CHILDREN FOR NATURAL DISASTERS
  • Educate children about potential threats or
    disasters in their community.
  • Take childrens fears seriously.
  • Provide important information about enhancing
    personal safety.
  • Teach children specific precautions for each
    disaster.
  • Explain to children when and how to seek help
    (i.e., 911).

57
KEYS TO RESILIENCE
  • Caring and loving family/friends
  • Ability to make/carry out realistic plans
  • Positive view of self/skills
  • Capacity to manage strong feelings/emotions
  • Positive view of the future

58
RESILIENCE AND OIL SPILLS
  • Shield children, families, and community members
    from exposure
  • Undo harm caused by exposure
  • Take actionbecome involved with local relief and
    recovery initiatives
  • Promote environmentally friendly policies and
    actions
  • Increases in eco-friendly beliefs, behavior, and
    policies often follow technological/ecological
    disasters

59
Contact Information
  • For further information please contact
  • Philip J. Lazarus, Ph.D.
  • Associate Professor and Director
  • School Psychology Training Program
  • Florida International University
  • Miami, Florida
  • 33199
  • 305-348-2725
  • philaz1_at_aol.com
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