PHILIPPINES - A Filipino psychiatrist who has written numerous books on coping with tragedies has suggested that "role models" such as celebrities be flown in to areas struck by Supertyphoon "Yolanda" to console victims and give them the boost they need to rebuild their communities.
According to Dr. Lourdes Ignacio, a member of the World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation and the Philippine Psychiatric Association, "people who are admired" should be encouraged to "take the time to talk, hug and even entertain" the victims whose self-worth have plummeted as a result of the tragedy.
"What you have to [do is] put yourself in their shoes. [Think about] what will make your day and then take one day at a time. Because it's already difficult to be awake for eight hours while nothing is happening in your life [and] … you also lost someone," Ignacio, who coauthored the book "Ginhawa: Well-being in the Aftermath of Disasters," told reporters at a forum the other day.
Asked which "role models" she was referring to, Ignacio replied: "Whoever can give you a sense of importance such as the people you admire," including show biz celebrities.
Even letting the victims hold Christmas parties amid the devastation could help, she said, adding that this would provide them with an outlet for their emotions and give them the impression that they were just going about their daily lives.
Ignacio observed that "psychosocial processing" has so far taken a "back seat" in affected areas because the "major focus is really rescue, provision of housing, security, stability and sense of control."
She added that even the first responders-relief workers, media practitioners, President Aquino and Cabinet officials, among others-should undergo a stress debriefing "somewhere along the way."