Mental Health and Psychosocial Aspects of Disaster Preparedness in Bangladesh

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2006 Dec;18(6):529-35. doi: 10.1080/09540260601037896.


The aim of this paper is to highlight the activities and observations of some NGOs and some dedicated researchers in the field of psychosocial consequences of disaster in Bangladesh, particularly in the coastal areas and the tornado-affected areas of the district of Tangile and Jamalpur during the last two decades. Some of the advantages of the non-governmental organizations' (NGOs) work in relief and development were their linkages with grass-roots people ensuring access to the community and community participation, the flexible approach of work, ability and willingness to learn from people and ability to connect people's lives with their realities. The most remarkable survey carried out by the Social Assistance and Rehabilitation for the Physically Vulnerable (SARPV-Bangladesh) after the 1996 tornado showed, on average, that women are more affected psychologically than men; 66% of the total sample in the disaster area were psychologically traumatized and required emergency services. The study supports the ideas that any disaster will have mental health consequences. Providing scientific psychological services is essential for real recovery from such a disaster. In developing countries like Bangladesh, limitations of mental health professionals and inadequate knowledge and practice about disaster mental health among the medical and paramedical staff, may lead to delays in the psychosocial management and rehabilitation of the survivors. To respond properly to a serious type of disaster like a cyclone or a tornado or recurrent devastating flood, the disaster mental health team should be aware of the socio-economic status, local culture, tradition, language and local livelihood patterns. Integration of the team with the network of various governmental and non-governmental organizations is essential to provide mental health services effectively.

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Disasters*
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Psychology
  • Social Work / organization & administration*
  • Time Factors