PHILIPSBURG--The Association of Psychologists and Allied Professionals of St. Maarten (APAP SXM) is focusing its attention on providing psychological help and support to the community of St. Maarten to deal with the emotional trauma caused by the devastating havoc wrought on the island by Hurricane Irma.
APAP SXM said in a press release on Tuesday that experiencing a shocking event such as Hurricane Irma can severely impact residents emotionally.
“In the early morning of September 6, Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island of St Maarten. When she left, she took a great deal with her. She took lives, roofs, cars and complete buildings. Next to these material goods, she also took the island’s feeling of safety, predictability and control, leaving the people of St. Maarten with a lot of questions and worries on how to move ahead,” the association said.
It said it is initially reaching out and, by means of stepped care, providing the community with information on the process of psychological recovery. Via various media outlets it will also be explaining to the people of St Maarten what to expect and how to deal with the psychological impact Irma made on them.
“We also offer workshops/presentations to health care workers and other private businesses on the psychological effects of experiencing a disaster. Furthermore, we aim to collaborate with the various organisations and entities that have a role in the psycho-social recovery of St. Maarten. Organising and streamlining these many efforts into one will not only strengthen the support that is offered, but also ensure quality mental health care,” the Association said in its release.
“It is important to realise that stress reactions are normal at first and are needed to process the disaster you have experienced. Some people might experience stress reactions such as anxiety, getting easily frustrated, anger, difficulty concentrating, tiredness or not being able to sleep. In most cases these stress reactions decrease over time. Additionally, to help the process it is important to give yourself time to adjust,” the association advised.
“It will take some time for things to go back to normal, so it will also take some time before you will feel normal. In the meantime, try to share your experiences and express yourself. Try to get back to your regular routine as soon as possible and do not hesitate to ask for support from others.”
In case the stress reactions a person is experiencing are very severe or do not seem to decrease over time, the association urges persons to contact their house doctors, who can refer them to a specialist for trauma therapy.
“There are proven techniques and therapies available on the island that can help,” the association said.
APAP SXM is on Facebook and can be reached via e-mail at
[email protected] .