More than $40 million will be spent on mental health support for victims of the east coast flooding disaster, the government announced this week.
Experts say the stress of living through a natural disaster can lead to prolonged dips in people’s wellbeing and spikes in domestic violence rates.
Most, or $31.2 million, will go towards immediate and longer term support for individuals and families, and communities, while $10 million will be specifically targeted at programs for school aged children.
The mental strain and trauma can often have a serious effect on people’s inner wellbeing and their relationships with others around them, including a potential spike in domestic violence rates, which has been experienced in the wake of other disasters.
“We can’t underestimate the long term mental health toll so many communities will be facing,” Mr Morrison said.
“As well as the new mental health supports we’re announcing, my government will closely monitor the situation to understand what else people need as they recover from these disasters.”
National Clinical Adviser at Headspace, Rupert Saunders said it was really common for people to feel numb or disconnected, have trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and feeling on edge.
“These are all really normal reactions to not normal events,” he said.
According to Kim Usher, Professor of Nursing at the University of New England an often unspoken effect of large scale disasters is a surge in domestic violence rates which follows.
“Researchers have been studying the links between natural disasters and domestic violence for years,” she wrote in an article for The Conversation.
Studies showed DV rates went up in the wake of past floods such as Hurricane Katrina in the US, as well as the worse-affected areas Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria
Ms Usher points one or a combination of psychological, physical, financial and sexual abuse.
According to Deakin University psychologists, Gery Karantzas and Antonina Mikocka-Walus, research shows that generally around two-thirds of people affected by natural disasters will bounce back from the initial feelings of stress, worry and sadness within around two months.
Others can experience high levels of psychological distress that dissipate over a longer period of time, or can go on to affect them for a lifetime.
Mental health support