Exploring the Effects of Earthquakes in Nepal

On April 25, 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people and injuring over 21,000.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese were homeless and entire villages were flattened in many areas.  Complicating matters, on May 12, 2015 the largest aftershock occurred (magnitude of 7.4) followed minutes later by a magnitude 6.3 shock.  More than 450,000 people were displaced overall.

The horrific effects of earthquakes go far beyond immediate physical destruction.  It is difficult to imagine the losses both physical and mental that can occur during such devastation. Until now there was limited knowledge regarding post-disaster psychopathology, and even mental health in general in the Nepali population. Through internal funding, Susan Santangelo, the Director of the Center for Psychiatric Research at MMCRI, was able to launch the Nepal PTSD Project in March 2016.

“The goals of the project are to determine the prevalence of PTSD, depression, resilience and factors associated with event impact among earthquake survivors,” says Santangelo. “In addition, we trained college students in Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) to enable the students to train villagers to ultimately help each other.”

As of 2019, the research team is currently analyzing data to determine the impact of teaching skills for psychological recovery to the villagers.  They have just published a paper with another one under review. The published paper is:

Schwind, JS; Formby, CS; Santangelo, SL; Norman, SA; Brown, R; Hoffmann-Frances, R; Koss, E; Karmacharya, D. Earthquake Exposures and Mental Health Outcomes in Children and Adolescents from Phulpingdanda Village, Nepal: A Cross-Sectional Study. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2018 Dec 20;12:54. doi: 10.1186/s13034-018-0257-9. PMID: 30598695

Above:  Maine Behavioral Healthcare Trauma experts, Rebecca Hoffman-Frances and Rebecca Brown, lead discussion of earthquake aftermath with school children. Below:  A destroyed home in Nepal and Nepalese family outside their temporary home.

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Rebecca Hoffmann-Frances, LMFT

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