Psychologists in Van call for a normal life

Psychologists in Van call for a normal life

Psychologists in Van call for a normal life

Children living in the tent city in Van’s Erciş district are attending programs, where they can participate in theater and music activitis together with psychologists. AA photo

Life in the quake-hit eastern province of Van should return back to normal as soon as possible for the locals who still live there, according to psychologists working in the area.

“The initial 7.2-magnitude earthquake and its aftershocks have psychologically affected the local residents beyond the material damages,” Cumhur Amasyalı, a psychologist from the Turkish Psychologists Association’s Trauma Commission, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“After the initial [quake], we were progressing in the area. But the 5.6-magnitude aftershock on Nov. 9 erased all our progress. All our efforts went down the drain,” Amasyalı told the Daily News.
Amasyalı said residents in the area had acute stress disorders that had caused feelings of mistrust, crying fits, eating disorders and other side effects.

 “People still can’t get go to their homes or sleep properly without worrying about the floor beneath them shaking again,” Amasyalı said, adding that a team of psychologists were currently doing one-on-one consultations with residents. 


Ali Erdoğan, a consultant who works in the zone under the Social Services Experts Association, said many residents had left Van and migrated elsewhere, but added that they were working with the people who stayed.

“We are trying to bolster people’s trust in the idea that things will return to normal. The most essential thing for these people’s psychological health is the idea that life will go back to normal, really, as soon as possible,” Amasyalı said. 

Amasyalı said officials urgently needed to accelerate their work on constructing homes, repairing schools and finding working facilities for the quake victims. 

He also said that although his group did not diagnose people with trauma immediately, there were potential trauma cases in the area. “We are going to work here for three months and observe the people before we diagnose them. But our first aim is to prevent stress disorders so that we can prevent trauma.”