Paper Sample on Mental Health Disasters: How Social Psychology Helps Understand Causes

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1355 Words
Date:  2023-02-12


Social psychology has been used for various decades to gain insights into mental health processes. Social and environmental disturbances are major functions of the causes of mental disorders. Disasters, for example, which range from manmade, natural, and non-intentional technological disorders cause detrimental effects on the mental health of individuals. Disasters are events that result in unexpected occurrences such as death, trauma to the victims, and destruction of property. Due to these occurrences, victims begin to exhibit signs of post-traumatic health conditions, which require them to seek help from mental health professionals. This research paper proposal discusses the aspect of mental health. It answers the research question, "What can mental health and medical professionals do to help people cope in the immediate aftermath of a disaster?"

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Analysis of the Literature

Aldrich and Meyer (2014) examined the role of social capital and networks in disaster survival and recovery. The authors define social capital as the fellowship, mutual sympathy and social interactions in a social unit. Their study features the crucial job that social capital plays in the recuperation and survival of the casualties of their disaster, incorporating its role in handling the mental health issues experienced by the casualties of a disaster. More so, Sippel et al. (2015) stated that the importance of social support should be considered, as an individual's social network can increase an individual's capability of coping with stress. Social capital can be categorized into types such as bonding, bridging, and linking. Without a doubt, the aspect of social capital networks would help to alleviate the health conditions associated with mental trauma. This can happen through resilience (Sippel et al. 2015; Aldrich & Meyer, 2014). Sippel et al. (2015) mentioned that resilience results in problem-solving, communication, mediates recovery, and leads to maladaptation. As discussed by Aldrich and Meyer (2014), government and non-governmental organizations apply resilience interventions through time banking, focus groups, social events, and re-design of physical interactions to take full advantage of social interactions.

Few victims of disasters seek help after disasters. This cause many cases of mental disorders to go unreported. In their article, Goldman and Galea (2014) indicated that it is fundamental to recognize disasters as occasions that are generally unexpected and can cause fatalities, result in trauma, and damage property. The added that considering the possibility that disasters influence a significant number of individuals every year, a portion of those influenced show posttraumatic conditions, in this manner, requiring help from psychological health professionals. Gruebner et al. (2017) researched the approach for disaster mental health. In their article, researchers proposed that disaster events should be mapped on social media to anticipate acute stress in the population and identifying their mental health needs. Indeed, the detection of mental health risks using real-time social media data after disasters is a novel idea since it would help to reduce the psychological effects.

Dieltjens et al. (2014) discussed Psychological First Aid (PFA) as an element of care for disaster victims. As they explained, WHO defines PFA as a supportive response to fellow human beings who require help. The authors expressed that the arrangement of (PFA) can be one of the answers for the psychological wellness issue, which can be considered a fundamental consideration that ought to be given to victims of disasters Besides the PFA, the study concentrated on the identification of other strategies that can be executed to guarantee long-term results. The strategies include listening, comforting, and providing support to meet basic needs. Goldman and Galea (2014) also affirmed that PFA's are the most common strategies for disasters, which aims to secure survivors, provide basic needs, and minimize acute stress. More so, Sippel et al. (2015) emphasized the importance of mental health strategies such as effective problem solving, which would eventually reduce depression, increase feelings of belongingness, solidarity, and encourage healthy coping behaviors. The evidence-based approaches provided in the literature are conceivable as they bring feelings of safety, calmness, hope, and connectedness to prevent mental disorders.

Social support is necessary for survivors of disasters. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (2019) indicated that victims who fail to get support are more likely to face enduring post-disaster distress and symptomology. While giving the interventions required, McFarlane and Williams (2012) recommend that the mental health experts ought to be well-coordinated and flexible especially in circumstances where disasters have happened and the circumstance is probably disorganized.

Limitations of the Studies

A limitation of the article by Sippel et al. (2015) is that the research is cross-sectional. As it is known, cross-sectional researches have disadvantages such as it is unable to analyze human behavior, they are unable to determine cause and effect, and the timing may be unrepresentative. This article, which discussed the role of social support in human resilience precluded causal conclusions on whether social support advances individual resilience or, comparably, that low social support fills in as a risk factor for physical and emotional health issues, or whether people who build up these issues are bound to create and keep up low-working social emotionally supportive networks. This limitation also applies to the article by Aldrich and Meyer (2014) since there are issues with the measurement of social capital that infiltrate empirical research and limit conceivable conclusions.

The limitation of research by Dieltjens et al. (2014) is that the PFA intervention lacks empirical evidence to develop guidelines. Due to that, the intervention, even though can be effective, may make it difficult to establish guidelines that could help disaster trauma victims. This limitation is also applicable in the research by Goldman and Galea (2014), which discussed the intervention strategies of PFA's.

The limitation of the research by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (2019) is that it lacks prior research on the topic. Prior research would have provided a theoretical foundation of the research investigated. This also applies to the research conducted by McFarlane and Williams (2012), which lacks sufficient prior research resulted in gaps in the literature. Besides that, since research on mental health has limited evidence on the dimensions of emotional reactions in a disaster, the research by (2017) is limited since real-time social media data collection would fail to reveal important pre and post-disaster information.


Over the years, disaster mental health research has evolved. Researchers of social psychology need to delve deeper into the research of social capital and its significance of helping victims of disasters. Based on the research, it is notable that disasters have a huge impact on the mental health of survivors. For this reason, policymakers should come up with more effective and plausible interventions that target victims of disasters at a regional, national, and international level. Without a doubt, the field of mental health problems caused by disasters will benefit from further research. Studies that discuss the prevalence of disaster mental health and longitudinal assessments of mental health victims would provide a huge contribution to future research. This would help to make informed interventions associated with the topic of mental health and disasters.


Aldrich, D. P., & Meyer, M. A. (2015). Social Capital and Community Resilience. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(2), 254-269. Retrieved from

Dieltjens, T., Moonens, I., Van Praet, K., De Buck, E., & Vandekerckhove, P. (2014). A Systematic Literature Search on Psychological First Aid: Lack of Evidence to Develop Guidelines. PloS One, 9(12), e114714. Retrieved from

Goldmann, E., & Galea, S. (2014). Mental Health Consequences of Disasters. Annual Review of Public Health, 35, 169-183. Retrieved from

Gruebner, O., Lowe, S.R., Dykora, M., Shankardass, K., Subramanian, S.V., & Galea, S. (2017). A novel surveillance approach for disaster mental health. PloS One, 12(7).

McFarlane, A. C., & Williams, R. (2012). Mental Health Services Required After Disasters: Learning from The Lasting Effects of Disasters. Depression Research and Treatment, 2012, 970194. Retrieved from

Sippel, L., Pietrzak, R., Charney, D., Mayes, L., & Southwick, S. (2015). How Does Social Support Enhance Resilience in the Trauma-Exposed Individual? Ecology and Society, 20(4). Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (2019). The Impact of Disaster and Mass Violence Events on Mental Health. Retrieved from

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Paper Sample on Mental Health Disasters: How Social Psychology Helps Understand Causes. (2023, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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