Disaster recovery workshop puts hope in locals

Glasshouse Country community members have some useful learnings about mental preparedness for disasters to share, after attending a recent workshop with Queensland Health Disaster Recovery.
This session was particularly relevant with the bushfires of late and the 2022 floods and severe storms in our area.
A presentation highlighted how important it is to mentally prepare for disasters to reduce anxiety, increase our sense of control in future disasters and to better recover after disasters.
Community members learnt about ‘disaster brain’, where the decision-making part of the brain, that regulates our response to threat, can disconnect. This is when our brains shift into flight, fright or freeze mode and can be taken over by our emotional brain. This knowledge emphasizes why it is important for us all to put plans in place now for how we will respond physically and mentally when we are faced with disasters.
People’s discussions at the session named the significance of community connections as the most important factor for how we deal with disasters. Some of the key points raised by community attendees as ways to mentally recover after disasters included: know your neighbours, support or volunteer with your local community, give donations and recognition to people on the frontline, keep connected in-person and on social media, recognise loneliness in the community and reach out to people, check in with how you are feeling and how others are coping and allow time to listen to people share about their feelings and stories.
For more information on psychological preparedness for disasters visit the Australian Red Cross and the Phoenix Disaster Mental Health Hub websites.