Doctors’ concerns for the mental health of residents following devastating storms and floods have prompted AMA Queensland to reactivate its highly successful ‘See the Signs’ campaign urging friends and family to look out for each other.
AMA Queensland President Dr Alex Markwell said judging by experience from past disasters there is a marked increase in mental health issues. “An AMA Queensland survey following the floods in 2011 found around 40% of Lockyer Valley and Toowoomba residents were very concerned about the mental health of family and friends,” Dr Markwell said. “Almost 60% of doctors had seen or expected to see a spike in mental health cases. This time round, even those who weren’t flooded still have to cope with the fear and upheaval.”
Dr Markwell said AMA Queensland had developed a pre-emptive strategy to help everyone recognise the symptoms of psychological distress and avert any further distress.
“We urge everyone to be aware of the signs to help identify is someone isn’t coping,” she said. “We are hoping that this time around people will take more notice of their own thoughts and behaviours, and that of family and friends. AMA Queensland, with the support of Queensland Health, is relaunching its poster and radio campaign to help people ‘See the Signs’.”
The Sevens Signs identified by AMA Queensland to help indicate whether a person is having difficulty:
Complaints of continued poor sleep with ongoing nightmares.
Observations a person is easily overwhelmed, tearful or fragile.
The use of drugs or alcohol to suppress intense emotions or to try and achieve sleep.
A pattern of withdrawing from family and friends and not engaging in day to day discussions that generally allow people to slowly debrief.
Problems performing at work such as struggling to concentrate on the job at hand.
Startling easily and declining invitations for social engagements and other usually pleasurable activities.
Increased or unreasonable irritability with family, workmates or friends.
Single parents and children between eight and 15 years of age are considered most at risk of a mental illness following a natural disaster. Elderly people are also at risk, especially in situations where family members or carers have been affected.
Girls, women, small business owners and ethnic minorities are at greater risk of developing post a traumatic stress disorder as are rescue workers, volunteers and those with a direct exposure to trauma.
To find your nearest GP visit www.findadoctor.com.au.
AMA Queensland is the state’s peak health organisation which exists to advance the professional interests of doctors and the health of the community. It is an independent organisation which represents 5,500 doctors – public and private specialists and general practitioners