Updates & Alerts

Mounting Emotional Toll of Floodwaters on Displaced Pakistanis

It is now estimated that over 14 million people have been affected by the recent floods in Pakistan. Many have lost their homes, their belongings, and their livelihoods. Some have lost family members and friends and witnessed others being swept away. Communities have been separated and shattered, disrupting natural support networks. The continued displacement and insecurity poses continuous challenges and difficulties for families and communities.  The physical as well as emotional toll of this disaster are enormous.

Consequently, International Medical Corps teams are finding large numbers of flood victims suffering from psychosocial problems caused by the severe stress, loss, and difficult social and living conditions. This puts people at higher risk of developing chronic mental health problems such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression.

International Medical Corps’ local psychologists and psychosocial counselors have been providing psychosocial support to flood affected communities in Charsadda, Nowshehra and Peshawar Districts. On August 7th International Medical Corps’ psychosocial team identified 74 individuals suffering from significant psychological distress.

One affected individual, Sadiq, took refuge at a school in Peshawar City.  When International Medical Corps’ local counselors met him, he was aggressive and depressed.  As the floodwaters rose around Sadiq’s house, it collapsed in on him, trapping him for days without food or water. He was rescued by the Pakistani army and reunited with his family at the school – except for his son, who was lost in the flooding.  Sadiq is now coming to terms with losing his son, his home and all of his possessions.

Mohammad, a 29-year-old taxi driver, also consulted with International Medical Corps’ counselors in Peshawar. The floods came rushing in three days after moving his family into the new home he had built himself, forcing them to flee. Mohammad is still suffering shock and trauma.

Because of International Medical Corps’ psychosocial counselors, individuals experiencing significant distress are identified and supported. More specialized cases are also identified and referred to locally available mental health services.  This kind of psychosocial support, alongside providing basic health care and information on accessing additional basic services, is vital in strengthening local coping mechanisms and helping those affected by the floods begin the process of recovery.