In the wake of the Grenfell fire and the terror attacks in London and Manchester, NHS England has sent out a letter to all GPs offering practical advice on how to help people affected by a traumatic event, which can result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“We must remember that for those people who were affected by these horrific tragedies, the journey is not over and many will continue to face difficulties,” said Claire Murdoch, National Clinical Director for Mental Health. “We want everyone who has been affected to know that there is always support available and how and when they should access it.”
And it is not only members of the public. NHS staff, who worked during recent mass casualty emergencies, including Grenfell Tower and the London Bridge terror attack, also need help dealing with the aftermath of such tragedies.
“People have been in shock up until now,” the Reverend Mia Hilborn, who leads the chaplaincy team at Guy’s & St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, told the BBC. “There hasn’t been time to find out if people do have any mental health issues. We’re still trying to process what happened – and to remember what happened, because your mind blanks things out. People’s memories are beginning to come back.”
The latest Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey provides data on the prevalence of both treated and untreated psychiatric disorder in the English adult population and was conducted by NatCen Social Research, in collaboration with the University of Leicester, for NHS Digital.
Published last year, it showed 37% of adults aged 16-74 with conditions such as anxiety or depression, were accessing mental health treatment, in 2014 and around 17% of adults met the criteria for a common mental disorder (CMD).
Referring to PTSD, the survey defined traumatic events as experiences that either put a person – or someone close to them – at risk of serious harm or death, like a major disaster, terror attack, a serious car accident, being raped, or a loved one dying by murder or suicide.
Around 31% of adults in England report having experienced at least one traumatic event. Individuals who experience such trauma may go on to develop PTSD. PTSD is a severe and disabling condition, characterised by flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, numbing and hypervigilance.
While effective treatments exist, many with the condition delay seeking help or are not identified by health services. Recommended treatments include psychological interventions, whereas there is limited evidence for the use of medication. Without effective treatment, many people may develop chronic problems over many years.
Given that medication has limited success and anti-depressants can cause addictions, talking therapies like clinical hypnotherapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are most often recommended.
With more than 1,800 highly trained and qualified therapists across the UK, the National Council for Hypnotherapy is well placed to deal with PTSD problems and other issues like stress, anxiety and phobias which could result from a traumatic experience.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focuses on the way people think, feel and act in order to help them overcome emotional and behavioural issues. It uses scientifically researched and tested method to bring about effective change. It has a natural synergy with hypnotherapy and the two approaches can provide effective treatment.
PTSD can be triggered by recall or an event and, through hypnotherapy, a person can learn to recognise that trigger and establish a new and alternative behaviour when experiencing that trigger event. While in the hypnotic state during treatment, they will be better able to see alternative perspectives and behaviours in stressful situations.
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