Psychosocial support in disaster-affected communities

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2006 Dec;18(6):501-5. doi: 10.1080/09540260601038472.


The paper outlines psychosocial interventions in providing care and support to disaster-affected communities. Any impact of disaster can be looked at in two ways: firstly by ascertaining the characteristics of the event itself, and secondly, how that event is appraised by those affected. Depending on different phases of the impact of the disaster, individuals will respond in different styles. Psychosocial interventions must be tailored to address the needs of the target population, with special attention paid to vulnerable groups such as children, women and the elderly. These should also be modulated according to the phase of recovery following the event occurrence because each phase will highlight different needs. The four phases of intervention, although determined separately, may show an overlap. In the initial phases, the emphasis is on social intervention that can be delivered by community-level workers. In the later phases, the psychological issues that emerge necessitate the services of trained professionals. Initial social care will need to give way to psychological care, and on occasion both will need to be combined for a considerable period. Since psychosocial care is a long-term, continuous process, disaster management and preparedness programmes must invest in training for capacity building by training community workers and primary care health professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Community Mental Health Services / standards
  • Community Mental Health Services / supply & distribution
  • Culture
  • Disasters*
  • Empathy
  • Humans
  • India
  • Psychology