On August 4th, the explosion in Beirut traumatized an entire population. Humanity & Inclusion’s psychosocial support teams are working in the city’s worst affected neighborhoods, where they have found a population in shock.
One man, who was fishing at the time of the explosion, no longer feels able to go to sea leading to a significant loss of income to him and his family. He feels oppressed and cannot sleep. In another case, the simple act of asking one woman what she needed brought tears to her eyes.
Over the last two weeks, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams have provided emergency psychological assistance to some 500 people.
The teams reach out to people hit by the explosion, assess their needs, and pay special attention to their mental health. Humanity & Inclusion provides each individual suffering from extreme shock with assistance, and works to find solutions to their problems.
Each time they visit someone’s home, the Humanity & Inclusion team makes introductions, explaining what the organization does. The purpose of the visit is to conduct an interview and to connect the family to relevant social, medical, and humanitarian services available nearby. The team records the damage caused by the explosion, and the individual situation of each person in the household.
Immediate psychological support
Humanity & Inclusion encourages people to talk about their personal situation. The teams take time to listen to victims, allowing them to share their feelings and get things off their chest. Psychological "first aid" involves listening to people, acknowledging their experiences, and adopting a kind and attentive attitude to their distress.
The psychologist or psychosocial worker adopts a neutral attitude, never interrupts someone, and establishes a relationship of trust. They normalize situations or reactions: if a person explains that he or she feels too anxious to leave home, the psychologist will share that this is normal right now, and many people feel the same way. This can help relieve stress.
A sympathetic ear as the start of therapy
A sympathetic ear can begin to relieve the stress and anxiety a person may be feeling. In the most serious cases, Humanity & Inclusion provides information on immediately available mental health services. The Humanity & Inclusion team always calls the person back two or three days after the interview to check on them and make sure they have been able to access the support they suggested.
© Tom Nicholson / Humanity & Inclusion
Chafik Mia, 36, suffered a serious leg injury when the roof of his kitchen collapsed following an explosion in the port of Beirut on 4 August.