British Columbia's Registered Psychologists travel to Haiti and Nelson, BC in
the efforts to aid recovery from the earthquake and trauma

True recovery from disaster takes more than just time.

VANCOUVER, Jan. 25 /CNW/ - While most British Columbians are reeling from the images and reports of the situation in Haiti, Dr. Jeanne LeBlanc, Chair of the British Columbia Psychological Association's Disaster Response Network, has just returned home from a week in Port au Prince where she rushed in last week while others were striving to flee. Together with a team of trained and experienced professionals, she was on the island to offer Disaster Behavioral Health not only to the Haitians themselves, but also to the first responders there struggling to deal with the disaster.

While Dr LeBlanc was in Haiti using all her skills to aid in suicide prevention, soothing those in pain, and dealing with the ubiquitous grieving, trauma and loss, other members of the BC Psychological Association's Disaster Response Network were on their way to help those in Nelson, BC. The seventeen students and teachers who were rescued from Haiti, have experienced and been witness to the disaster, their families and community have to deal with the shock and fear that their loved ones were in danger; Registered Psychologists are there to help. Dr LeBlanc has noted: "The psychological footprint of the earthquake is profound. Not only are structures damaged, but the psychological consequences of the loss of community, family, and ability to participate in basic activities such as daily work and education, will continue to impact those affected for many, many months to come. Additionally, no one who responds to this disaster will leave untouched by it. Although most people will cope with this experience just fine in the long run, they will certainly be impacted to one degree or another."

For those British Columbians who may be struggling to cope from a distance, or are having trouble dealing with the images of the Haiti Earthquake aftermath, the British Columbia Psychological Association offers the following tips to mange your distress:

    
    -   Take a news break. Watching endless replays of footage from the
        disaster can make your stress even greater. Although you will want to
        keep informed - especially if you have loved ones in Haiti - taking a
        break from watching the news can lessen your distress.

    -   Control what you can. There are routines in your life that you can
        continue such as going to work or school and making meals. It is
        helpful to maintain these routines and schedules to give yourself a
        break from constantly thinking about the earthquake.

    -   Find a productive way to help if you can. Many organizations are set
        up to provide various forms of aid to survivors. Contributing or
        volunteering is a positive action that can help you to make a
        difference.

    -   Keep things in perspective. While an earthquake can bring tremendous
        hardship and loss, remember to focus on the things that are good in
        your life. Persevere and trust in your ability to get through the
        challenging days ahead.
    

For many people, using the tips above may be sufficient to get them through current challenges. At times, however, an individual can have difficulty managing intense reactions. A registered psychologist can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living. You can find psychologists near you by checking the BCPA website: www.psychologists.bc.ca

ABOUT British Columbia Psychological Association Disaster Response Network:

In accordance with BCPA's belief that it is the fundamental right of all individuals to have access to mental health services, the BC Disaster Response Network of psychologists offers psychological intervention on a pro bono basis during and after destructive events. Our role includes brief psychological treatment with persons whose usual methods of coping have become ineffective in the face of such disasters or destructive events. Other services to be offered are on site consultations, crisis intervention, education, follow up, and assistance with referrals to appropriate mental health services

ABOUT British Columbia Psychological Association:

With over 660 members from across British Columbia, BCPA represents a valuable Healthcare resource. Since 1938, the BCPA has represented psychologists in British Columbia; it is a voluntary body and is committed to advancing the delivery and availability of Psychological Services along with promoting the psychological well being of all British Columbians.

SOURCE BRITISH COLUMBIA PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

For further information: For further information: Rebecca Smith, Executive Director, No. 204-1909 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC, V6J 1Z3, Ph: (604) 730-0501, Fx: (604) 730-0502, Email: rs.bcpa@telus.net, www.psychologists.bc.ca

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BRITISH COLUMBIA PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

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DISASTER IN HAITI

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