Mental Health and Behavioral Guidelines for Response to a Pandemic Flu Outbreak: Background on the Mental Health Impact of Natural Disasters, including Epidemics [open pdf - 173KB]
"It is only relatively recently that attention has been focused on the mental health impact of disasters. Previously, concerns related to immediate physical health and community infrastructure risks in the aftermath of disasters such as storms, earthquakes, or floods had overwhelmed considerations of the short and long-term mental health consequences of disasters, or the extent to which mental health played a role in the impact of a disaster. In the arena of the health impact of natural disasters, the majority of data available relate to weather or geologic events. [...] We know that severe stress reactions are common; that front-line health and human services workers are at high risk for PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]; and that in general, even in relatively developed countries, there is very little existing infrastructure in place that can adequately address the mental health needs of victims. In contrast, there is almost no data on the mental health impacts of outbreaks of disease. This is largely because there have been few pandemic health threats in the last century. Since the highly lethal pandemic outbreak of influenza in 1918, there have been few global threats from infectious agents. The recent outbreaks of SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] in Asia and Canada, which caused global concern but fortunately did not result in large-scale outbreaks nor a global pandemic, gives us the most recent data on the mental health concerns that are relevant in a pandemic outbreak situation."
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: http://www.centerforthestudyoftraumaticstress.org