An overlooked part of the Nepal quake response: Mental health

By Sophie Cousins 06 July 2015

Villagers from Singla sleep in tents after a massive earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015. Some Nepalese who still live in makeshift shelters are too scared to sleep indoors. Photo by: Asian Development Bank / CC BY

It is just over two months since the first earthquake hit Nepal, which killed almost 9,000 people and demolished more than 500,000 homes.

Thousands of aid workers descended on the poor, landlocked country before yet another earthquake hit and shook the Nepalese again to the bone. Experts, wary that survivors would be traumatized, warned of an impending mental health disaster if people’s needs were not met.

Despite this, few nongovernmental organizations actually address the mental toll of disasters — mental health is seen more difficult to treat than physical wounds and not sexy enough to receive the funding it deserves.

But months on and just as the monsoon season begins, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese are still living in makeshift tents across the country. While some have been forced to do so because their homes were destroyed, others are simply too scared to sleep indoors.

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About the author

Sophie Cousins

Sophie Cousins is a health writer based in India. She was previously based between Lebanon and Iraq focusing on refugee health and conflict. She is particularly interested in infectious diseases and rural health in South Asia. She writes for international medical journals, including The Lancet, and for international news websites such as Al-Jazeera English.

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