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‘Families feeling better’

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INTERVENTION: Counselling efforts helping them, says Welfare officer

KUALA LUMPUR: EMOTIONS of family members of passengers on board MH370  are now more stable and they are coping well, said Welfare Department psychology officer Mohd Noor Ikhram Husin.

He said the families were now more composed compared with when the news of the missing flight broke.

“There has been drastic positive changes in the process of us helping them out through counseling activities and by lending a listening ear,” he told the News Straits Times yesterday.

He said on the first day, the families felt lost and confused.

“After the intervention that we made, they began sharing their feelings, which has made them feel better,” he said.

He explained that sometimes the role of a counselor was to just listen and to ensure those affected did not feel alone.

“In times of crisis, it is important to listen, and we have gotten closer to the families of passengers.”

He said that most of the families did not prefer to talk to others who were there as they did not want to add to their burden.

“This is the time when we play our role,” he added.

He also shared how the counselors who were on standby dealt with the situation and unstable emotions of worried family members.

“It is most important to calm them down, by simply standing close to them, holding them down.

“After a while they will start to speak, just give them some time.”

He added that others could also do this as some distraught family members may be at home waiting for news and those who visit them could be in need of help.

Mohd Noor said the next step was crucial and this was to express concern.

“Tell them you are not sure what to say but you are concerned. It is very important to use the right words and they become calm,” he said.

He shared that it was next important to ask the next of kin and family members on how as well as what sort assistance they required.

“In our case some wanted to just rest and we help arrange with the parties involved,” he explained.

He stressed that what those affected needed was less of counseling but more of a moral support.

“Once we have established a relationship, it becomes easier for them to talk and they will eventually feel better.”

The department, he said had deployed 15 counselors at the hotel with 10 working at one time, on four shifts (1am to 7am, 7am to 1pm, 1pm to 7pm and 7pm to 1am)

In Putrajaya, Malaysian Crisis Intervention Team deputy president Dr Abdul Jalil Hassan said families and the next of kin of passengers aboard flight MH370 should participate in outdoor activities.

He said outdoor activities could help divert their attention away from thoughts on their loved ones.

“They cannot remain in the room or at home always. They need to go outdoor, catch a breath of fresh air and meet with their friends or relatives as this will ease their worries.”

Dr Jalil said the sign that showed their emotional stability was due to their willingness to be interviewed by the media as compared to the first day when they were informed of the tragedy.

“Their emotions are stable and this can be seen from their response when they were interviewed.

“They are stronger and are able to control their feelings. Moreover, the new possibilities that were revealed gave them a glimmer of hope.

“There are ups and downs when it comes to emotions and sometimes it can be affected by several factors including social support from the people surrounding them, trust and also their beliefs. Everyone has emotions, and it depends on how we control and manage it.”

Dr Jalil said it was not only counseling services that is provided to the families and next of kin, but there were other approaches that could be used aside from building a closer relationship with them.

“Sometimes, it does not mean that only words of encouragement can ease their stress and tension, hugs will also help them. Even by holding their hands, it can give them immense strength.”

-NST

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