Mental health in the Philippines post Typhoon Haiyan

No doubt the Philippines will rebuild. But much of the damage isn't obvious. Along with emergency food, water and supplies, aid workers who specialize in helping with psychological healing is needed. (AP/Aaron Favila)


The Philippines' Cabinet Secretary is optimistic his fellow citizens will withstand the catastrophe of Typhoon Haiyan. But the aftermath will also test the mental resiliency of Filipinos and as Canadian aid workers head over to help, some wonder if our strategies for dealing with it will cross cultures.

The Filipinos left in Typhoon Haiyan's wake are bereft... dazzled by the scale of the devastation. Emergency food, water treatment equipment and other emergency supplies are trickling in. Along with the relief are some aid workers who specialize in helping with psychological healing.

Reine Lebel is a psychologist contracted by Medicins Sans Frontieres to go to the Philippines as part of its aid mission. She's expecting to board a plane any day. In the past 15 years, she's been deployed to work in several crises, including Haiti after the earthquake and Indonesia after the tsunami. Reine Lebel was in Pontiac, Quebec.

There is growing evidence that not all cultures respond to trauma the same way -- with the implication that strategies to deal with trauma developed in one place, may not be as effective in another.

It's a topic taken up by author Ethan Watters in his latest book Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. And Ethan Watters was in San Francisco.

Andrew Solomon is a writer and lecturer on psychology, politics, and the arts. In 2008, he gave a talk on the topic of Guts: Stories from the Razor's Edge. Rwanda had many depressed citizens following its catastrophe -- and Andrew Solomon was told the western relief workers weren't much help.

Here's the full video:


This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Peter Mitton.

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