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Haiti: HI plans mental health response for people traumatised by earthquake

Emergency
Haiti

People affected by the 14th August earthquake are in dire need of psychological support.

Two members of HI walk in a street in front of partly destroyed buildings

© HI

Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is implementing mental health and psychosocial services for individuals and overwhelmed medical staff in need.

An exhausted population

Following the August 14th earthquake in Haiti, individuals in Les Cayes and surrounding areas have reported struggling with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and flashbacks to the event. Lack of rest only furthers the problem, as the lingering fear of building collapse forces people to sleep outside.

HI sets up psychological first aid

HI has identified mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS) among the priorities in its action plan. A mental health expert will organise both individual and group therapies. HI also plans to create a safe space for debriefing and follow-up support and basic psychological first aid training for newly recruited physiotherapists.

“I don’t really have the words to explain what it’s been like. It was horrible,”

says 21-year-old Pascal, born and raised in Port Salut.

“I’m traumatised by the earthquake. I don’t sleep well at all and I have felt multiple aftershocks - even when they are not happening. The experience is stuck in my head and it feels like it’s happening all the time. People keep telling me that it’s not, but I feel like I keep having to relive it.”

“I lost four members of my family,”

says Rourld, a 32 year old from Les Cayes.

“Their home collapsed onto them. It’s so hard already, and we’re planning their funerals. It’s unbearable. Since the 14th of August, we have had over 500 aftershocks. Each time, people are traumatised all over again. We ask ourselves if this time we will be the ones who don’t make it through. If anyone can help, people really need it.” 

Date published: 25/08/21

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