19th December 2011

Climate change, disasters and psychological response in Bangladesh

Graham Turpin at conference in Bangladesh

Professor Graham Turpin, HoD Psychology, has recently returned from Bangladesh where he was a keynote speaker at the Bangladesh Clinical Psychology Association conference on Climate change and disaster management.

Bangladesh is the second lowest lying country in the world and a higher sea level makes it more likely for freak tides and cyclones to breach the coastal and tidal defences, and the effects of climate change also increases the risks of river flooding and earthquake.

The effects of such disasters touch all. The Bangladesh Association of Psychiatrists conducted a survey 2 months after the cyclone Sidr of November 2007, assessing 750 survivors. Of these, 25.2% had post-traumatic stress disorder, 17.9% had major depressive disorder, 16.3% had somatoform disorder and 14.6% had a mixed anxiety and depressive disorder. Furthermore, 17.1% reported the death of a family member, and 82.9% were homeless.

The conference discussed how the psychological needs of disaster survivors, and the impact of such disasters on first responders such as first aid and relief helpers, police and military could be managed, particularly in countries with limited resources and few trained psychologists. It was attended by psychologists, psychiatrists and policy makers from Bangladesh, northern India and Pakistan.

Professor Turpin spoke about his role in implementing the expansion of access to psychological therapies within the UK, and his research evaluating the efficacy of providing self-help information to trauma survivors. He also participated in several press interviews and TV programmes.