A Bahamas flag flies tied to a sapling, amidst the rubble left by Hurricane Dorian in Abaco in September. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
By LEANDRA ROLLE
IN an effort to provide mental health support in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, Doctors Hospital is offering free therapy sessions for persons who were impacted by the Category Five storm.
These therapy sessions - held every Thursday in the Luden conference room at Doctors Hospital - are geared towards people who may be suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems following Dorian.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, symptoms of PTSD can include difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, being easily irritated and angered or emotional numbness, etc.
Just last week, health officials speculated that as many as 10 percent of the 75,000 residents from storm ravaged islands may be at risk of suffering from depression and PTSD.
According to Health Minister Dr Duane Sands, this is a “massive problem” that gives rise to the possibility of increased suicides among victims and even some first responders.
He said: “Just think about the number of people that have lost family members and how long it is going to take to help them get over it; to help them to be able function and then imagine the number of people that have lost their homes that have to start over.
In an interview with The Tribune, Annette Cash, who is a member of the Doctors Hospital Hurricane Dorian Relief Committee, said people suffering from trauma should take advantage of the sessions.
“We realise that trauma is something that takes a really long time to deal with. Because sometimes you think you’re over something and you may think you don’t need help and something like counseling is sort taboo in the Bahamas. So, you may think that ‘I don’t help, or I can get over this,’” she said.
“But this is something that doesn’t go away, so the challenge is how well how do I deal with this from a long-term perspective? What are some of the tools and strategies I can use not to necessarily get rid of the memories, but more manage the memories of the experiences that I had…”
According Mrs Cash, three therapy sessions have been conducted thus far. She noted that in this week’s upcoming session, much focus will be directed towards storm-affected children.
“We have a clinical psychologist that is working with the persons that come in. This Thursday, we will do a focus session directly with children that have been impacted and continue to display symptoms of depression, so we’re going to have a child psychologist on hand this coming Thursday,” she added.
There is no date set yet for when the sessions will cease, however Mrs Cash said they are appealing for more members of the public to make use of the services while they are still available.
The sessions run from 6pm to 8pm every Thursday.