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Coping with the Emotional Challenges of Pandemic Influenza
An Online Guide for Individuals and Families
This Online program was developed to help individuals and families predict and prepare for the many emotional challenges associated with a potential pandemic influenza.
Emotional and physical preparedness are some of the most effective ways of addressing the anxiety and stress that may accompany such a serious worldwide disease outbreak.
The two primary strategies for coping with the emotional impact of a pandemic influenza are:
This program will provide individuals and families with:
Definition: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), viruses must meet three prerequisites to be called pandemics:
While many scientists believe the current avian influenza outbreak has the potential to transform into a pandemic strain:
There are many emotional challenges that may face individuals and families during a pandemic. These challenges are not limited to the medical impact of a disease outbreak, but include reactions to:
Governments worldwide may operate in a “wartime” mode. This will involve:
There are a multitude of ways in which a pandemic would affect society. These include the:
Like other disasters and acts of terrorism, the pandemic will magnify preexisting social fractures related to cultural, religious, and economic differences.
Many social responses revolve around loss. These losses may include the loss of:
Economics is not just about the financial markets, it is about how rare assets are allocated.
Due to closures of businesses, lost work time related to illness or caring for others, and many other factors, individuals and households may suffer great financial difficulties, such as:
Individuals with pre-existing medical or mental health issues may encounter increased levels of stress and anxiety, along with disruptions of the health care delivery system. This may impact:
Several aspects of the pandemic and public health response may complicate grief and loss reactions. These include the:
For those individuals working or studying away from their home nations, there may be additional emotional stress associated with:
Political leaders must consider the emotional consequences of such unavoidable ethical issues as:
The following are some useful suggestions for coping with the emotional challenges stemming from pandemic influenza and other health emergencies:
Pre-pandemic, practicing good health habits is another way of reducing the risk of all types of influenza in your home or family. To stay as healthy as possible:
Take common-sense steps to limit the spread of germs. Make good hygiene a habit:
To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection:
To plan for a pandemic:
Think about how you can rely less on public transportation during a pandemic. For example, store food and other essential supplies so you can make fewer trips to the store.
Schools and childcare centers may be closed to slow the spread of disease or because a significant number of staff members are unable to come to work. It is advisable to consider alternative means of childcare and schooling during the pandemic period. You may wish to:
Build up a supply of water and food. During a pandemic you may not be able to get to a store. Even if you can get to a store, it may be out of supplies. Public waterworks services may also be interrupted. Stocking supplies can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters. Store foods that:
During a possible prolonged health emergency, it is recommended that you have the following items on hand:
If possible, it is also recommended to have:
Take common-sense steps to limit the spread of germs. Make good hygiene a habit.
and attempts to manage the physical and emotional consequences must begin today.
Please contact the
New Jersey Department of Human Services
Division of Mental Health Services
Disaster & Terrorism Branch
pandemic flu and avian influenza: www.pandemicflu.gov
The information presented in this program has been adapted from three primary sources:
Please visit these sites for more information and updates about the avian influenza and pandemic influenza.