We are all suffering and healing individuals.
Disasters affect individuals and communities to the extent that they cannot cope on their own. Affected people include disaster survivors and their families, bereaved families of victims, volunteers and staff helping at disaster rescue sites, residents of disaster-hit regions, and all the people who vividly witness disaster scenes through mass media. In the face of a disaster, people respond to its impact by doing everything within their power to control it. They do their best to minimize the damage caused by the disaster and to speed up the recovery of individuals and communities.
Amidst this process, there is something that must be borne in mind: the invisible trauma left on the mind, which is just as important as the visible impact of the disaster. Mental health professionals are committed to disaster management to prevent and heal the inner pain left by the impact of such disasters.
Unlike fires or accidents, which have clearly delineable impacts as they are limited to specific areas, outbreaks of infectious diseases are disasters that directly affect most citizens. These outbreaks can change people’s lives and minds. It is a major stressor for people that they cannot control epidemics because the pathogens are invisible and difficult to predict, and no remedy has yet been found. People at a low or no risk of getting sick also suffer from anxiety and depression.
The psychological pain of those already infected by or exposed to the pathogens is beyond description. Moreover, prejudice and stigma exacerbate the pain more than anything else. Therefore, care needs to be taken to clear the mind of traces of injury after physical recovery.
The chaos brought about by a disaster requires a proven and agreed-upon way of healing and recovery. Therefore, a team of multidisciplinary specialists from the Korean Society for Traumatic Stress Studies including psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, nurses, counselors, emergency physicians, researchers, and administrators with extensive experience in dealing with trauma and stress, joined their efforts to publish the Guidelines on Psychosocial Care for Infectious Disease Management.
The primary concern of mental health guidelines for disaster management so far has been to teach people affected by a disaster on how to respond. The guidelines we present contain concrete and all-encompassing practical directions for victims and families, vulnerable groups, friends and acquaintances, communities, disaster workers, specialists, faith-based communities, the media, the general public, and the government to prevent and heal the emotional pain caused by the epidemic.
The guidelines include twenty-eight topics covering different target groups, interests, issues, and stages. The guidelines contain the collective heart of the entire world keen to help one suffering individuals. They contain results agreed upon through a thorough review of literature, research, intense discussion, and the clinical experience of specialists.
Helping those suffering from an infectious disease is not the sole responsibility of one person; we all must help. We are all suffering and healing individuals. Our minds, diverse and variegated as they may be, can be united as one collective mind to help each other—as long as each of us decides, epidemics will disappear and leave no scars in our minds.
Chan-Seung Chung, MD, Ph.D.
Chair of Public Relations, Korean Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
- Companies and organizations wishing to use any material should request permission from KSTSS ( email@example.com ).
- Suggested Citation:
- Korean Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. (2020). Guidelines on psychosocial care for infectious disease management. Gyeongsan: KSTSS.