Joshimath shipwreck: Mental health issues add to the trauma of the displaced

Insomnia, anxiety, depression and crippling uncertainty about the future. As days turn into weeks and the cracks in their city widen and deepen, hundreds of people displaced by the landslide in Joshimath and forced into relief camps are struggling with a range of mental health issues, say residents and experts.
With no end in sight to the crisis, hundreds of other people in the fragile mountain town of Uttarakhand, still lucky enough to be home, are frantic with worry over when – not if – they too will have to move into government-run shelters. , hotels or just leave. city.
“The land subsidence event last month had an impact on everyone. The main symptoms among those affected are insomnia and anxiety,” said Dr. Jyotsana Naithwal, AIIMS Rishikesh psychiatrist based at the community health center (CHC) in Joshimath, in a telephone interview.
She is part of a team of three trained psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist deployed in the city of over 20,000 to help people combat mental trauma.
Naithwal’s own house in Singhdhar area has developed cracks and she is living in a hotel with her family.
Studies have found that natural tragedies such as landslides, earthquakes and floods are traumatic and can result in a wide range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Effective screening and awareness programs among survivors must be strengthened for the prevention and treatment of psychiatric morbidity among landslide survivors, experts said.
According to Atul Sati, organizer of Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (JBSS), fewer people are coming forward to report their problems because mental health is still taboo.
“We were warning that a mental health epidemic is on the way. Many people that our volunteers have been in contact with are experiencing trauma and mental issues,” Sati told PTI.
Being forced to part with their damaged homes and the fear that they may never return to their childhood homes is leading to a host of problems.
Just ask 19-year-old Neha Saklani.
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 compounded the already anxious life we’ve led since our house started to develop cracks nearly a year ago,” Neha told PTI.
The Saklani family, who live in the Sunil area on their way to the famous Auli ski resort, said they were the first to report the subsidence of ground in Joshimath when their house cracked in May last year.
Neha’s mother recently underwent a surgical procedure at a local clinic, and the family is at a loss as to how she can recover in their cramped hotel room.
“We keep thinking about our home. Imagine the trauma of living in a sinking house for a year. It’s horrible,” she said.
”Initially, I couldn’t sleep. Even now, I sometimes feel depressed and anxious. My sister is unable to continue her studies. She wanted to go to college this year. I think that will have to wait,” she told PTI.
The closure of businesses in the city has heightened extreme anxiety about what tomorrow will bring.
Suraj Kapruwan had a laundromat in Manohar Van which was heavily damaged during the January 2nd subsidence event. He said he hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since.
“I am depressed and I can hardly sleep at night. I keep thinking about my business, where I’ve spent thousands of dollars. There is still no compensation in sight. I don’t know how to deal with the situation,” the 38-year-old hotel management graduate told PTI.
Naithwal added that assessing the burden of mental illness is difficult as people do not report symptoms to doctors unlike other health disorders and symptoms can flare up anytime up to a year.
“We have been making rounds in the affected areas. If someone has symptoms, a counselor helps them deal with 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 proper and immediate rehabilitation plan for the people of Joshimath.
In his opinion, the general situation in Joshimath has only worsened in the last month.
”Cracks in more houses have been reported recently. Cracks in the earth around the danger zone have only grown,” she added.
The number of structures, according to the government, that have developed cracks so far is 868, an increase from Jan. 20, when the number was 863, Sati said.
Authorities estimate that the current 878 members of 243 families affected by the disaster are in relief camps.
”Basic facilities like food, drinking water, medicine, etc. are being made available to affected people in relief camps”, according to DM Chamoli’s Twitter.
“In Joshimath, an amount of Rs 505.80 lakh has been distributed so far for damaged buildings, special rehabilitation package, one-time special allowance for transporting goods and immediate needs and purchasing household materials as an early help to affected families”,’ another tweet on Thursday said.
However, Sati claimed that there are serious discrepancies in the official assessment of damages and compensation.
“Many people who deserved compensation did not receive it, while others who were not affected did,” he added.
”Joshimath is not fit for a township,” warned the government-appointed Mishra Committee report in 1976 and recommended a ban on heavy construction work in the area.
The notice was not heeded. Over the decades, the site has become a busy gateway for thousands of pilgrims and tourists.

Joshimath is a gateway to various Himalayan mountaineering expeditions, trekking trails and pilgrimage centers such as Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib, and the Valley of Flowers, a UNESCO world heritage site.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

Joshimath shipwreck: Mental health issues add to the trauma of the displaced

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