The world’s eyes are currently placed on the psychical devastation in Lebanon, but underneath the dust and the rubble, sits the psychological effects of this catastrophe. And while debris can eventually be cleared and houses can be rebuilt, the trauma of the explosion will leave a deep, lasting scar.
Initial reactions to traumatic events can include confusion, disorientation, agitation, guilt and difficulty sleeping, which can develop into longer term conditions such as anxiety and depression. It is therefore, more important than ever, that those who have been affected by the blast receive the support, guidance and treatment they may need.
“The people I have spoken to in Beirut are definitely experiencing an acute stress reaction,” says psychologist and founder of Lighthouse Arabia, Dr. Saliha Afridi. “Acute stress disorder is a psychological condition that is diagnosed when an individual has been exposed to a traumatic event, symptoms can include numbness, reduction of awareness in surroundings and dissociative amnesia.
“These are very normal reactions to an absolutely horrific event and can last for four weeks,” says Dr. Afridi. As the psyche begins adjusts to what has happened, initial responses and feelings of shock should start to subside, however, acute stress disorder can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder if symptoms continue.
How to seek help and support?
Mental health clinics and wellness centres across the Middle East are offering counselling and advice to those affected (both directly and indirectly) by the Lebanon explosion. Here are the resources you need to know…
Thrive Wellbeing Centre
Psychologists at Dubai-based wellness centre, Thrive, are offering 30-minute sessions to children, parents, and adults who have been impacted by the Beirut explosion. The sessions will take place over the next two weeks, and the there will also be group sessions to guide people on how to support their loved ones during the crisis. All of these free services will be available in English, Arabic, and French. To book call +971 56 895 2347
The LightHouse Arabia
Lighthouse Arabia have dedicated an Instagram story category to ‘Beirut,’ where you can find useful resources and advice, including a Q&A with Dr. Saliha Afridi. The Q&A covers how to help children overcome the trauma, how to process feelings of guilt and how to support those around you. Lighthouse also held a critical incident debriefing online, led by grief and trauma support specialist Farah Dahabi. Watch the session here.
Whispers of Serenity Mental Health Clinic
This Oman-based mental health clinic has collaborated with Not Alone Oman to offer a mental health hotline to those affected by the devastating events in Beirut. The free counselling service is available for those based in Lebanon, and for Lebanese nationals living abroad (with the hotline accepting international calls from around the world). To talk to someone, call +968 99359779