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Anguish flooding back for Ipswich

RISING CONCERNS: AMA Queensland president Dr Alex Markwell.
RISING CONCERNS: AMA Queensland president Dr Alex Markwell. Claudia Baxter

THE mental health of Ipswich flood victims is at the forefront of AMA Queensland's concerns following the threat of rising water last month.

AMA Queensland president Dr Alex Markwell said the recent storm and flooding led the medical association to launch the See the Signs campaign.

She urged Ipswich residents to look out for each other as the city recovered from another flood.

Her concern was matched by Mayor Paul Pisasale, who felt the community angst was amplified when floodwaters threatened Ipswich on Australia Day.

Dr Markwell said the campaign listed seven signs indicating a loved one or friend might be suffering from mental trauma.

Judging by past disaster experience, there was a marked increase in mental health issues, she said.

"An AMA Queensland survey following the floods in 2011 found 31% of Ipswich residents were very concerned about the mental health of family and friends," she said.

"Also almost 60% of doctors had seen or expected to see a spike in mental health cases.

"This time round, even those who weren't flooded still have to cope with the fear and upheaval."

Cr Pisasale said mentally the floods still affected many.

"The most important thing is it's about yourself. We are trying to get the message out there," he said. "Knowing what the signs are and if you know somebody experiencing it, to be a good friend you need to tell them to get help.

"The mental anguish was three times as bad in 2013.

"They remembered the nightmares of 2011 and had to go through them again."

Dr Markwell hoped the pre-emptive strategy would help everyone recognise the symptoms of psychological distress.

"We are hoping that this time around people will take more notice of their own thoughts and behaviours, and that of family and friends," she said.

"AMA Queensland, with the support of Queensland Health,

is relaunching its poster and

radio campaign to help people

'See the Signs'.

"If you don't address it now it will continue to fester, and what happens in five years time may not be directly related, but it may have begun then."

The Seven Signs

  1. Poor sleep and nightmares
  2. Tearful or fragile
  3. Drug or alcohol use
  4. Withdrawing from family
  5. Poor work performance
  6. Avoiding social events
  7. Irritability with family

Topics:  flood 2013, mental health


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