Disasters: Mental Health Context and Responses is a fascinating compilation of chapters by expert authors from around the world. Each author uses his/her own unique expertise to outline how disasters impact mental health and comment on methods to mitigate human suffering. The book is presented in three separate but inter-related sections of articles. Each section is dedicated to a disaster subtype: Natural, Human-made (or man-made) and Economic disasters. The psychological impact of earthquakes, droughts, floods, and cyclones, occurring in different areas of the world, is presented in the natural disaster section. Authors from Greece, Turkey, India and Pakistan, for example, explore how disasters can lead to emotional distress and posttraumatic symptoms in the midst of and in the aftermath of a disaster. Epidemiological data is used thoughtfully to support the impact of natural disasters.
In the man-made disaster section, the authors illustrate the influence war and conflict has on mental health in compelling detail. The articles in this section do an extraordinary job of illustrating how women, children and other vulnerable populations are unequally effected. They place an emphasis on the role humanitarian organizations and international law have on preventing conflict and aiding in recovery. Special attention is drawn to preventative psychological interventions and the importance of understanding cultural and historical influences when treating terror exposed individuals. The final section, Economic disasters, discusses how economic crises (substantial drop in GDP and increase in unemployment) have a direct effect on rates of suicide and homicide. Data is drawn specifically from the economic disaster in Greece. Authors address the impact economic and man-made disasters have had on the refugee crisis, which is particularly relevant within our global political climate.
The book creatively ends with a thought provoking section exploring the intersection between art and disaster from a psychoanalytical perspective. This book is an engaging, relevant and informative read for both mental health professionals and the lay reader. It is a reminder of human nature, human suffering and the power of healing. We strongly encourage students, residents and colleagues from throughout the world to read and use this very important and illuminating book for their clinical practices, teaching and research.
Nakita Natala and Michelle B. Riba
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