In the past two weeks, the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant accident in Japan has killed thousands of people. I feel so sad and my heart sank when I face the sad news. I wish people in Japan and their country recover soon from this disaster. However, the rebuilding of the cities so affected will take years. In addition, we are still not sure of the outcome of the nuclear accident at this moment.

We have updated news through newspapers, television broadcasts and internet transmissions. There are people who respond to such repeated news in an overly sensitive and exaggerated manner. How can I help myself on facing devastating news? How can I help my clients when they face similar situations? I would like to share some tips and reliable sources of information with you. Hope you will find them useful.

Preventive measures on facing bad news:

1) Minimize unnecessary “repetitive” exposure to such news

2) Choose only one newspaper or one TV news channel for information updates

3) Keep discussion of such news with workmates or family members at a minimum level

4) Get correct and reliable knowledge and information from reputable organizations

5) Monitor one’s own emotional changes and, seek help if negative moods are prolonged and severe

6) Stay on a healthy life style – adequate sleep and regular exercise

7) Keep up with leisure activities

Tips for counsellors:

1) Understand the emotional process of facing crises

2) Help the individual understand his/her problem

3) Explore the individual’s potential

4) Build up a healthy and positive routine in family and work

5) Explore any irrational thought and belief; challenge it

6) Watch out for any addictive or self harm behaviour

7) Create a supportive network for the individual

Useful information:

I) Radiation Monitoring Special Webpage for Nuclear Accident – HK Observatory

II) Emergency Preparedness and Response – from CDC

III) What is radiation sickness – from Mayo clinic

Tony Lau

2006 graduate