In The Conversation, two psychologists discuss the research evidence into providing early intervention mental health services to the public shortly after large-scale tragedies. They advise that doing nothing is often much better and safer for people.
“In the past, mental health professionals were of the view that early intervention was critical for helping prevent early symptoms progressing into debilitating conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder,” they write. “But three decades of research has demonstrated that indiscriminant psychological intervention carried out in the immediate aftermath of a critical incident may well do harm… One possible explanation for this counter-intuitive finding is that the symptoms of hyper-arousal and hyper-alertness that follow a critical incident tend to naturally fade for many people as time passes. This natural process of recovery and redeveloping a sense of safety may be disrupted by ill-timed psychological interventions.”
Why not all Sydney siege hostages will need mental health help (The Conversation, December 16, 2014)