HSE booklet for people coping with flooding devastation

The HSE has set up a helpline for those feeling emotionally overwhelmed by the devastation caused by the recent severe flooding.

As many Co Galway homeowners and businesses in the affected areas count the cost of the damage the local health authority says some people may be feeling very distressed.

It says the suddenness and shock of the flooding together with the issues it raises can be very upsetting for people. It can give rise to a range of emotions.

The HSE has launched both a booklet and helpline aimed at reaching out to those hardest hit.

Clare Gormley, the HSE’s principal psychologist in Galway, said people who experienced flooding in their home or business could be very distressed.

“Common reactions following severe flooding can range from shock and disbelief to sadness and loss to anger.

“Children are particularly vulnerable, and simple things like talking to them about the situation and reassuring them of their family’s safety could help them cope.”

Some of the physical symptoms include aches and pains, tense muscles, headaches and upset stomach.

Speaking at the announcement, Tony Canavan, the chief Officer for CHO Area 2 (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon ) said both staff and the community in the affected areas have shown great community spirit.

“We must continue to do so. We will continue to do our best in supporting families during these tough times.”

The HSE CHO Area 2 has set up a Freephone helpline for people who may be emotionally overwhelmed at the moment. They can contact the HSE counselling helpline for those affected by flooding on Freephone 1800 245 600 from 9.30am to 5pm on week days.

Common reactions following severe flooding

Shock or disbelief at what has happened, feeling numb, or unreal

Anxiety/fear - worry about a range of practical issues, including finances, future housing, and whether you will be able to cope.

Sadness/loss - distress at seeing a home or business damaged, loss of treasured possessions, and less sense of security and safety within one’s home.

Flashbacks - You may have repeated and vivid memories of the event which suddenly come into your mind for no apparent reason.

Anger at what has happened - at the senselessness of it all or why it has happened to you. You may become more irritable than usual and your mood may be changeable.

Physical symptoms - such as aches and pains, tense muscles, headaches, upset stomach, etc.

Loss of sense of normality, safety and predictability and a feeling of “the world as we know it” being changed.

Sleep problems, including difficulty getting to sleep, waking in the middle of the night and nightmares. Exhaustion and over-fatigue can set in following severe physical and psychological stress.

Problems with thinking and concentrating or remembering things.

Strains in relationships may appear as everyone is under stress and there is disruption to normal routines. On the other hand, new friendships and a stronger sense of community may come into being.

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