World-renowned New York Psychologist calls for attention to lasting suffering of tsunami survivors, on anniversary in Sendai, Japan
New York psychologist Dr. Judy Kuriansky will be present March 11-18 at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, on the anniversary of the tragic tsunami/earthquake. A Children and Youth Forum will take place in conjunction with the main conference to sharpen young people’s skills in insuring the future of the planet for generations to come.
Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters are increasingly threatening the planet and leaving millions of people suffering from loss of loved ones and livelihood. This dire situation makes this topic and conference of urgent importance.
Dr. Kuriansky is making several presentations about the importance of ongoing awareness in the long-lasting emotional trauma of people after such disasters. Her topics include “Building Back Better: How Volunteers Help,” “Recovering from Natural Disasters and Epidemics like Ebola,” and “Mental Health and Youth.”
This is timely news given that the governments of the world are in Sendai to reach an agreement about climate change and disaster risk reduction. This comes at a time when the new global agenda is being negotiated that identifies the goals that countries promise to achieve for the years 2015-2030. These goals include ending poverty, achieving gender equality, promoting health and wellbeing, and combating climate change.
A major topic being discussed at the WCDRR is “resilience.” Dr. Kuriansky is lobbying governments that:
1) All too often people forget the pain of natural disasters – whether close to American homeland like Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey, or far away earthquakes and tsunamis – thinking that things have gone “back to normal” when, in fact, emotional suffering lingers for years for survivors and their relatives in America and worldwide.
2) While resilience is being included in the goals of the new global Post-2015 agenda, it only refers to structural issues like building far from the water’s edge and reinforcing buildings. But given people’s pain, says Dr. Kuriansky, it is critical to use the specific words of “psychosocial” resilience.
TALKING POINTS that Dr. Kuriansky will address:
• How long does the suffering of people last after natural disasters?
• How do you help affected people cope with their pain over the long-term when others think they should be back to normal?
• What is “resilience?” What is “psychosocial resilience?”
• What are the signs that someone is resilient?
• How can you become more resilient?
• What are the problems that children and young people face in disasters?
• How can parents help young people cope in the face of disaster?
• How are the people of Japan coping four years after their major tsunami-earthquake?
• What is being debated about climate change at this World Conference and what do governments and public groups want to accomplish?
• What can young people do to influence this debate?
BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Judy Kuriansky is an internationally-known clinical psychologist on the faculty of Columbia University Teachers College. At the United Nations, she is Chair of the Psychology Coalition and the main representative for the International Association of Applied Psychology. An expert in psychosocial disaster recovery, she has provided psychosocial support worldwide; in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, in New York after Superstorm Sandy, and also in Sendai Japan after the 2011 tsunami/earthquake. Her books include Living in an Environmentally Traumatized World: Healing Ourselves and Our Planet. An award–winning journalist and famous radio advice talk show host for years, she has also written The Complete Idiots Guide to A Healthy Relationship and is writing a book about the psychosocial issues in Ebola to be released this spring.
ADDED FEATURE: Dr. Judy recently returned from Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone where she facilitated workshops to help children, survivors and a burial team deal with the emotional trauma. Of news value is that the United Nations Secretary General and the head of the UN Emergency Ebola Response team are urging donors, the public, and the media not to be complacent about Ebola. While the death rate is decreasing, the UN is trying to raise another $900 million for Phase 2 of the recovery. The psychological impact on women, orphans and the Diaspora will go on for years. On her return, Dr Judy was monitored for the requisite 21 days as part of the New York City Health Department’s Ebola Care Program.