Natural disasters and youth mental health

Young people’s mental health surrounding natural disasters is sometimes very easily overlooked.
Nanjing Night Net

Kids are seen as being resilient and can appear to take many things in their stride.

If they look OK on the outside they must be OK on the inside, right?

In recent years studies have indicated that the mental health and wellbeing of young people has declined dramatically, and of the impact of trauma and loss is often hidden.

Studies show that around 12 – 18 months after a significant trauma event the impact on mental and emotional health can present as behavioral issues, pain in the body, sleep disturbancesand learning difficulties.

The research on trauma indicates that the more we hold in our emotions, try to forget the event and just get on with it, the more we suffer.

As adults we need to be more in tune, check in with our kids’ feelings, validate their emotions and provide a space for them to be felt and acknowledged, no matter how unpleasant this may be in the moment, for the purpose of healing and growth.

Dungog Youth Services’ Horse Tales program was developed as a social/emotional learning program to address the current issues around mental health and wellbeing for young people within the Dungog Shire.

The impact of equine-assisted learning and therapy has proven to be of great success.

Areas impacted by natural disasters such as the King Lake fires in Victoria have recovered whole communities using this therapeutic approach building awareness, emotional intelligence and resilience.

Dungog Rotary has generously sponsored sixyoung people from throughout the shire who were significantly impacted by the April foods of 2015 to participate in the six-week Horse Tales learning program to continue their journey of healing and recovery.

The partnership between Dungog Shire Community Centre and the Dungog Rotary Club has seen many wonderful programs and supports developed over the years.

This was never truer in the response to the severe weather events of April 2015.

The focus Rotary now has for the longer-term recovery and success of our whole community, and in particular our children and young people, demonstrates the support and commitment Dungog Rotary has to our community.

Sarah U’Brien, ManagerDungog Shire Community CentreThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.