Anger Dimensions and Mental Health Following a Disaster: Distribution and Implications After a Major Bushfire

  • Sean Cowlishaw, Olivia Metcalf, Tracey Varker, Caleb Stone, Robyn Molyneaux, Lisa Gibbs, Karen Block, Louise Harms, Colin MacDougall, H. Colin Gallagher, Richard Bryant, Ellie Lawrence‐Wood, Connie Kellett, Meaghan O'Donnell, David Forbes
  • Journal of Traumatic Stress, November 2020, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/jts.22616

Environmental disasters cause mental health problems

Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

What is it about?

Surviving a traumatic event, like a natural disaster, often affects a person’s psychological well-being. Anger is a big part of post-traumatic mental health, but is often overlooked by researchers. This study looked at anger in survivors of natural disasters. It looked at how many people were angry, how angry they were, and what effect this had on them. The scientists used surveys answered by 736 residents of rural communities five years after they had survived bushfires in Victoria, Australia. Among other things, they looked at whether anger seems to be connected to life satisfaction, suicide, aggressive behaviour and exposure to violence.

Why is it important?

People from areas that had the worst bushfires were three times more angry than people from areas where fires were not so bad. Women, young people and the unemployed were more likely to suffer from mental health problems after a disaster. People who were angry were often less satisfied with life. They were 8 times more likely to think about killing themselves. They were nearly 13 times more likely to be hostile or aggressive. KEY TAKEAWAY: Many people feel angry after natural disasters. We need to be more aware of this because it may mean they are more likely to be violent towards themselves or others.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22616

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