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How environmental disasters in RS affect the population’s psychology
– how to remain healthy, health related news, latest symptoms and treatments.

Countless families were victims of environmental disasters resulting from the storms that recently hit Rio Grande do Sul. Today, the 10th, data released by the State Civil Defense shows that almost two million people were impacted by the storms and almost 400 thousand people are homeless. The psychological damage to these people is a worrying issue for public health. According to the president of the Rio Grande do Sul Regional Psychology Council (CRPRS), Miriam Alves, the mental health of flood victims could be affected by the losses caused by environmental disasters.

The victims

Miriam highlights that given the circumstances, victims can present a range of emotional and behavioral reactions, including sadness, anguish, anger, crying, concern about the future, changes in appetite and insomnia.

President Alves draws attention to the importance of caring for those who already face psychological difficulties, warning of the possibility of worsening symptoms in people who already needed mental support previously. She also points to the increase in substance use and incidents of violence, highlighting the need to be aware of these issues in shelters and reflect on how psychology can contribute to offering support.

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Support for victims is extremely practical: it is not about the clinical listening typical of psychotherapy, but rather about providing basic needs such as water, a safe place to shelter and rest, and food. These are essential care that must be offered in a respectful and non-invasive way.


Shelter in RS

Service at the Aliança Sports Gym, in the Restinga neighborhood (Photo: reproduction/Cristine Rochol/PMPA)
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Others impacted

Other forms of impact go beyond the victims directly affected by the floods, such as the family and friends of those affected who live in other parts that did not suffer from the rains, or those who pay attention to the news about the situation faced by the southern region.

Miriam Alves states that it is important, in these cases, to speak to mental health professionals: “Those who are safe must also be able to talk about this. You cannot ignore what is happening. Putting these feelings into words is fundamental for society as a whole, so that it is even possible to build strategies to minimize these impacts in the future, because we are experiencing a situation that, unfortunately, will repeat itself.”

According to the president of the Rio Grande do Sul Pediatrics Society, José Paulo Ferreira, children also suffer psychological impact and require special attention. He highlights the importance of explaining to children the reason for all these sudden changes: why they had to leave their homes in a hurry, why a family member might be missing, why they are living in shelters or facing lack of water and food in House. It's a challenging situation for children and adults alike, but it's crucial to have honest conversations with them.

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He mentions that there is a need for children who are sheltered to have the possibility to play: “It is through play that children express their feelings of irritation or frustration and their anxieties. This even helps us understand what this child is needing.”

Featured Photo: flooding in Cidade Baixa and Menino Deus (Reproduction/Julio Ferreira/PMPA)

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How environmental disasters in RS affect the population’s psychology

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