People who might need more help
Some people may find it more difficult to adjust to life after the event, and may require more support from their community.
- people who have been evacuated or separated from family and friends
- those who are more physically isolated
- those newly arrived to an area, including recent migrants or people from a refugee background
- people who are unwell, either prior to or as a result of the event
- people with a physical or intellectual disability living in the community with support
- people with significant financial losses
- people who have been injured or witnessed a traumatic event
A crisis may be more intense for people who have suffered heavily or been particularly involved.
Bereavement can be especially difficult when deaths were multiple, sudden or violent, a child or young person died, the body was not found, or when the relationship with the deceased person was difficult.
High profile events can also take on a community dimension, where the public also grieves for the deceased. This public grief often subsides quickly after public memorial services, leaving the directly affected people to cope within their own circle of family and friends.
Emergency workers, volunteers or helpers
The responsibility of helping out in an emergency can give people stronger reactions, especially those who gave deeply of themselves, came into close contact with the injured, dying or dead, felt they failed to do their job properly, or experienced ‘burn-out’.
Elderly people may find it harder to readjust because of reduced energy, increasing frailty and limitations on social and economic resources required to rebuild their lives.
Children also experience emotional and physical responses to crises. Their imaginings and nightmares can add to their fear after an event. Sometimes children show their distress by behaving in ways they did when they were younger, such as clinging.
These behaviours may be a burden on already stressed parents, but be aware that children need the closeness and comfort of their families. They need to be understood, believed and given honest explanations of the event.
It is important to make sure that children of all ages are not exposed to horrific images in the media, including on internet chat room sites. Be mindful of what they also might be exposed to listening to adult conversations and in the school yard. If you have concerns talk to your child’s teacher or your GP.
Kids Helpline provides confidential anonymous counselling for young people aged five to 25.
Constructive activities like drawing, playing and talking can help children to express their feelings.
Family and social relationships
Emergencies may put stress on existing relationships within the family and friendship circles. You might feel that your friends and family just can’t understand; they weren’t there. Common reactions to these feelings can include anger, conflict, jealousy and on rare occasions, violence.
Some friendships won’t prove to be as supportive as you expected; others may be surprisingly stronger. In some cases you may form new friendships and relationships, particularly with people with whom you shared the event.