As a group leader, it will be one of your responsibilities to watch your group members after a natural disaster or other traumatic event in order to monitor for emotional distress, also known as civilian PTSD. If you discover someone is having problems coping, the following treatments may be helpful.
Comfort and Support:
Natural disasters and other traumatic events can change everything in a person’s life. It can shatter a person’s sense of safety. As a group (or family) leader, it will be important that you be proactive in providing both support and comfort to those affected. Encourage those with you, including those affected if they are able, to join in. Even doing small things will be better than being passive.
Establish a Routine:
Leaders should establish a routine, as this can help all members of the group but will be especially helpful for those needing a sense of familiarity to return to their lives. Getting back into any type of normal routine will help those who are traumatized and feeling stressed or helpless. Routines can include anything from eating at certain times to doing school work (for kids who may be affected). Try to keep the mind occupied with positive tasks and conversations.
Connecting with Other People:
Often, civilians with PTSD will want to withdraw from other people and activities. This is not good. The person should be allowed some “alone” time, but they must get back into the group setting as soon as possible. Support from others in the group can go a long way in making this happen.
Acknowledge Their Feelings:
Just because you do not, or cannot, feel the same as the person affected does not mean that their feelings are not real. As a leader, you should acknowledge their feelings and let the person know that you are there for them and will help them in any way possible. Do not mock them and do not order them to “shake it off.” As the leader, it is up to you to be the strong one, and that often means sharing your strength with those who are weakened.
- Give the affected time to heal and let them mourn their losses
- Do not try to force or rush the healing process
- Be as patient as you can be
- Be ready for volatile emotions from the affected person
- Do not judge their feelings
- Be there for them
The amount of time it takes a person to recover from civilian PTSD varies from person to person. Your actions (if they are appropriate and correct) will go a long way in helping this person to get back onto his or her own feet.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of Patriot Surplus.