Associate Professor Leanne Humphreys: The majority of individuals who experience disaster will recover in the days, weeks and months that follow. Many will do this by using their existing coping strategies and with the support of family, friends, social and community networks.
Where transient difficulties such as sleep disturbance, increased anxiety and irritability, and low mood continue, Level 2 interventions or simple psychological strategies may continue to be useful and can be implemented by a range of appropriately trained health practitioners. However, some individuals will experience an exacerbation of pre-existing mental health conditions while others may develop frank mental health disorders. These can include generalised anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders, to name a few. When this occurs, Level 3 evidence-based interventions are recommended and these are best implemented by specialist mental health practitioners.
It’s important to understand the limitations of what you can appropriately offer as a health professional, and to refer on, progressing disaster-impacted individuals through the stepped care model as necessary.