Intended for healthcare professionals


“Disaster mental health”: lessons from Aberfan

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:254
  1. Derek A Summerfield (, honorary senior lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry
  1. HIV Mental Health Team, Maudsley Hospital, London SE5 8AZ

EDITOR—One aspect of the response to the Asian tsunami disaster is “disaster mental health.”1 The tsunami prompted the Department of Health to circulate briefing papers on acute stress reactions and post-traumatic disorder throughout NHS trusts, and various experts have stated that as many as 25% of child survivors will develop “post-traumatic stress disorder” requiring professional intervention.

So too after the recent Beslan school disaster. A team of 48 psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and psychologists was assembled before the siege …

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