No health without mental health: psychosocial & mental health care in conflict & catastrophes

Event Details

Speaker: Professor Richard Williams OBE TD

People’s experiences of emergencies, disasters, conflict, and disease outbreaks cover a huge spectrum of circumstances, events, and situations.  They range in severity from mild to very severe.  The Manchester Arena bombing showed that distress in physically uninjured survivors was universal and may last longer than thought before.

Richard says, ‘This talk starts by examining what we know of the impacts of conflict and catastrophes on everyone.  Illustrated by challenges to the habituation fallacy, I look at the affects suffered by people recurrently exposed to traumatic events including healthcare staff and humanitarian aid workers.  Keeping staff of health services emotionally well is vitally important for its own sake but also because research links their distress and moral injury with the quality of care that patients receive.  In our forthcoming book, colleagues and I suggest ways in which the psychosocial and mental health risks can be reduced.’

A survivor of a severe road traffic collision told us about the importance to her of conversations with other people at the time of her extrication; also, physical touch is vitally important to survivors.  Many pre-hospital emergency medicine practitioners have talked to me about the importance to them, and to how they respond to the needs of survivors, of employers recognising and dealing with the secondary stressors they face including fatigue, hunger, problems with personal safety, and relationships with their families and colleagues.  My attendances at a training course for Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine practitioners have reinforced these observations.  Clearly, comfort and kindness from others are crucial – every untoward event has its psychosocial features – veritably, there is no health without mental health.’

In his talk, Richard Williams will call on science presented in the World Mental Health Day symposium during the afternoon and other events to offer a way forward in supporting survivors and people who respond to humanitarian need by assisting them to avoid developing more serious mental health disorders.


Cost: £15 to attend – click here to book