Fort McMurray

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

If this is any indication of how devastating it is going to be for people in Fort McMurray, Alberta to return to their homes, I can only imagine how hard life is going to be in the months ahead. 

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley warns "dramatic images" emerging from Fort McMurray, Alta., may upset evacuees as she and Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake get their first look at wildfire damage during their tour today.

Fire Chief Darby Allen, as well as a limited number of media personnel, will accompany Notley and Blake on the tour.

The group will be escorted by RCMP and emergency vehicles. A news conference at the regional operations centre will come afterwards.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley became emotional Sunday when talking about the two young people who were killed in a vehicle crash while trying to leave Fort McMurray. (CBC )

Notley warned the stories that result from that tour could upset some evacuees.

"There will be some dramatic images coming from media over the next couple of days," Notley said at a news conference Sunday. "I want to reiterate mental health supports are available for anyone who needs help."

Trigger warnng!

The offer of providing mental health professionals sounds uniquely Canadian to me, and makes total sense. Here in America, we give you a blanket, a cup of water, maybe a trailer, and we move on. How many people were offered mental health counseling after Hurricane Sandy or whichever disaster? I don't remember reading about that, but here is an academic paper about the aftermath:

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate mental health outcomes among New Jersey shore residents with health impairments and disabilities after Hurricane Sandy.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Six months following Hurricane Sandy, a cross-sectional survey of 200 adults residing in beach communities directly exposed to the storm located in Monmouth County, NJ, was conducted.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, mental health service use, and medication use.

RESULTS:

The average age of residents surveyed was 59 years (SD = 13.7) and 52.5 percent (95% CI = 45.5-59.4) reported recent hospitalizations, physical limitations, fair to poor health status, multiple chronic health conditions, or physical disabilities. A total of 14.5 percent (95% CI = 10.2-20.1) of residents screened positive for PTSD and 6.0 percent (95% CI = 3.1-10.2) met criteria for depression 6 months after Sandy. In addition, 20.5 percent (95% CI = 15.4-26.7) sought some type of professional counseling after Sandy and 30.5 percent (95% CI = 24.5-37.3) experienced PTSD symptoms, depression, sought professional mental health support, or used psychotropic medications. In multivariate analyses, the best predictors of mental health and service use were having sleep problems, suicidal thoughts, moderate or severe pain, and having high exposure hurricane-related events. Analyses also suggested that noncollege graduates were more likely to receive mental health services (OR = 3.10, p = 0.009), while women were less likely to have depression (OR = 0.12, p = 0.038).

CONCLUSION:

Having physical impairments and health conditions were not directly related to adverse mental health outcomes following Sandy, but having sleep problems, pain, or suicidal thoughts were. Further research is needed to assess the health status of community residents with serious health impairments over time following disasters.

It should be more prominently featured in the coverage of these disasters that receiving mental health assistance is normal and natural. Not everyone has to project the face of resiliency and act all stoic. Many people need help and there's no shame in asking.