Graphic: Stephen flying in to flood areas
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) (Queensland Section) are extending their mental health services in Far North Queensland to support communities devastated by Tropical Cyclone Jasper.
The category 2 cyclone made landfall on the east coast of Cape York Peninsular on 13 December and flooded many communities across the Cooktown region.
Families have lost their animals, their homes, all their belongings and have been disconnected from services during a time when connection is needed most.
To assist, RFDS Mental Health Clinicians, Stephen, Chrissy, and Jess are providing mental health services across the area including Cooktown, Rossville and Ayton to support flood victims and agencies responding to the event.
The team are providing mental health consultations, telehealth calls and groups sessions to install hope.
“We’re providing psychological first aid,” Stephen said.
“By having a familiar face in the community, locals can sit down and talk about their story of survival and grieve.
“There has been times, even as a clinician, I have cried with them.
“We expect to see more referrals come through to help locals process what has happened.”
The team have spoken to many members of the Wujal Wujal community who are dispersed across the region after their homes were completely inundated by flood waters.
“There’s a noticeable feeling of loss here,” Jess said.
“There’s a number of houses which have been completely inundated with flood water and are unsalvageable. For Wujal Wujal, even though it’s only 450 kilometers from Cairns, the main roads to it were severely damaged.
“We’re doing everything we can to reconnect these communities and remind them that they are not alone.”
RFDS Manager – Far North Mental Health Jos said the RFDS is focused on helping Queenslanders overcome trauma from this event.
“We all process trauma differently, for one individual it could be the natural disaster itself and for others it could be the grief and loss of their belongings,” Jos said.
“We really should be expecting a range of emotions from people right now – it’s completely normal.
“At this stage we are really focusing on offering psychological first aid to people- looking at their initial safety, ensuring people are connected and supporting them to feel empowered again.
“We want to give people hope and help them rebuild.”
Our RFDS Far North Mental Health services are delivered in a variety of ways to meet the needs of each specific community, which is essential for improving individual outcomes.
Supporting people living in communities across Far North Queensland, this service provides culturally appropriate, evidence-based, psychological therapies to individuals who present with mild to moderate mental health needs.
Our clinicians are specifically trained and available for individuals to engage in therapeutic sessions to explore solutions and strategies to assist in recovery.
Comprising of mental health nurses, social workers and psychologists, our Far North team works alongside many key stakeholders using a Stepped Care approach.
To read more about our Mental Health services please see here.