Natural disasters, which cause serious injuries to victims and damage to property, can disrupt lives physically and psychologically, creating intense emotional distress for individuals, families and whole communities. Organisations play a vital and valuable role in assisting and supporting their employees and their families in the immediate aftermath and in the days, weeks and months following this tragic event.
It’s important to be aware that everyone will respond differently and everyone’s needs will be different, initially and over time. Being prepared to provide initial and long term support for people will enhance and promote their own personal coping strategies and resilience.
- If needed, allow additional time at home to spend time with family and friends – this helps them to feel safe and connected.
- Establish an open door policy that allows people to seek the appropriate care when needed.
- Create an environment that allows people to talk amongst themselves about fears and hopes related to the tragic events. Openly sharing with others has been known to promote personal recovery. There is also comfort in a shared community supporting one another.
- Be mindful and respectful of individual needs. Some people may feel uncomfortable or scared of sharing their feelings. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
- Encourage people to communicate their needs, rather than assume you know what their needs may be.
- Promote self-efficacy by engaging people in meeting their own needs by helping them regain their confidence and ability to manage their current and future situations.
- Maintain communication if an employee or student is away for any length of time.
- Give people assurance that affected families will be supported in some form or another.
- An incident of this nature has the power to entirely consume everyone involved, especially when it has an impact on one’s feeling of safety and one’s family.
- If possible and when appropriate try to establish normal routines as soon as possible.
- This aids recovery by providing people with an opportunity to be active and return to a sense of normalcy.
- Encourage groups or teams to decide what will be meaningful and helpful for them to do as a community e.g. attend a vigil, rally or raise money. There is a power in healing when people stand together at times like this.
- Provide simple and accurate information on how to access services, specifically encourage, and make it easy for, employees to speak with a professional counsellor. Most people will not want to speak to a counsellor in the initial days or weeks as they support each other. It is in the longer term when people need support from a counsellor or their Employee Assistance Program.
Please find specific information for Individuals by clicking here or contact Access EAP on 1800 81 87 28 (24 hr emergency counselling service).