New Delhi: Insomnia, anxiety, depression and paralyzing uncertainty about the future. As days turn into weeks and the cracks in their city widen and deepen, hundreds of people displaced by subsidence in Joshimath and forced into relief camps are battling a range of mental health problems, residents and experts say.
With the end of the crisis in sight, hundreds of others in the fragile mountain town of Uttarakhand, who are still fortunate enough to be home, are madly concerned about when – not if – they too will have to move to the government run shelters, hotels or simply have to leave. village.
“The subsidence last month has had an impact on everyone. The main symptoms among those affected are insomnia and anxiety,” said Dr. a telephone interview.
She is part of the team of three trained psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist deployed in the city of more than 20,000 to help people fight mental trauma.
Cracks have appeared in Mrs. Naithwal’s house in Singhdhar area and she lives in a hotel with her family.
Studies have shown that natural disasters such as landslides, earthquakes and floods are traumatic and can lead to a wide variety of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Effective screening and awareness programs among survivors need to be strengthened for the prevention and treatment of psychiatric morbidity among landslide survivors, experts say.
According to Atul Sati, chairman of the Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (JBSS), fewer people are coming forward to report their problems because mental health is still a taboo subject.
“We had warned that an epidemic of mental health is coming. Many of the people our volunteers have come into contact with are dealing with trauma and mental problems,” Atul Sati told PTI.
Being forced to leave their damaged homes and the fear that they may never be able to return to their parents’ home leads to a range of problems.
On February 3, just a month after Neha and her extended family of 14 moved into a hotel, her father received an anxious phone call that their home had been razed to the ground.
“We all rushed to the site and found it still intact. But the call only exacerbated the already anxious life we’ve been leading since our house started developing cracks almost a year ago,” 19-year-old Neha Saklani told PTI .
The Saklani family, who lived in the Sunil area on their way to the famous Auli ski resort, said they were the first to report subsidence in Joshimath when their house showed cracks in May last year.
Neha’s mother recently had surgery at a local clinic, and the family struggles to recover in their cramped hotel room.
“We keep thinking about our house. Imagine the trauma of living in a sinking house for a year. It’s horrific,” she said.
“At first I couldn’t sleep. Even now I sometimes feel depressed and anxious. My sister is not able to continue her studies. She wanted to go to university this year. I think that will have to wait,” she said. MOT.
The closure of businesses in the city has increased extreme anxiety about what tomorrow will bring.
Suraj Kapruwan owned a launderette in Manohar Van, which was badly damaged during the subsidence on 2 January. He said he hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since.
“I am depressed and hardly sleep at night. I keep thinking about my business that I spent lakhs on. There is no compensation in sight yet. I don’t know how to handle the situation,” says the 38- year-old, an old hotel manager graduate told PTI.
Ms Naithwal added that it is difficult to assess the burden of mental illness because people do not report symptoms to doctors, unlike other health disorders, and symptoms can surface at any time up to a year.
“We made rounds in the affected areas. If someone shows symptoms, a counselor helps them cope through relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises,” she told PTI.
“If someone has chronic symptoms, they are treated accordingly,” said the 32-year-old doctor.
According to Sati, the situation will only get worse if the authorities do not act faster and come up with a good and quick rehabilitation plan for the residents of Joshimath.
According to him, the overall situation in Joshimath has only gotten worse over the past month.
“Cracks in more houses have been reported lately. The cracks in the land around the danger zone have only widened,” he added.
The number of structures, according to the government, that have developed cracks so far stands at 868, an increase since January 20, when the number was 863, Atul Sati said.
Authorities estimate that 878 members of 243 disaster-stricken families are currently in refugee camps.
“Basic amenities such as food, drinking water, medicine, etc. are being made available to the affected people in the relief camps,” DM Chamoli’s Twitter handle said.
“In Joshimath, an amount of Rs 505.80 lakh has so far been distributed for damaged buildings, a special rehabilitation package, a one-off special grant for the transportation of goods and immediate needs and the purchase of household materials as an advance to the affected families,” another tweet Thursday said.
However, Mr. Sati claimed that there are serious discrepancies in the official schedule of damages and compensation.
“Many people who deserved compensation didn’t get it, while others who weren’t affected got it,” he added.
“Joshimath is not fit for a township,” the government-appointed Mishra Commission report warned in 1976, recommending a ban on heavy construction in the area.
The warning was not followed. Over the decades, the place exploded into a busy gateway for thousands of pilgrims and tourists.
Joshimath is a gateway to several Himalayan mountaineering expeditions, trekking trails and pilgrimage centers such as Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib, and the Valley of Flowers, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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