Trapped miners face mental health challenges

    It will be a long wait until 33 miners trapped deep in a Chilean mine will be free. Experts say it could take up to four months before a big enough hole can be drilled to allow them to escape.

    It will be a long wait until 33 miners trapped deep in a Chilean mine will be free. Experts say it could take up to four months before a big enough hole can be drilled to allow them to escape. As Maiken Scott reports from WHYY’s Behavioral health desk – this prolonged entrapment poses serious challenges to their emotional well-being:

    In life-threatening situations, the human brain first kicks into survival mode – and is busy looking for strategies to get out of bad circumstances. But now that the miners have established contact with the outside world, and will get food and water, it is very important that they stay busy, says Elna Yadin from Penn’s Center for the treatment and study of anxiety:

    Yadin: When something is happening to us and we have a sense of lacking control, that’s when our mental health is diminished, they will want to be very active and busy and helping in their day-to-day passage of time, and making sure that it’s meaningful.

    William Dubin of the department of psychiatry at the Temple University school of medicine says it’s crucial to keep them in close contact with the outside world:

    Dubin: Whenever we’re in a very difficult situation like that we like to know what’s going on, and I think that’s true here to. You have to try to maintain human contact, try to instill hope, and keep them informed as to what’s happening

    Dubin and Yadin say the miners will be at risk for mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder once they emerge. However, they say the majority of people survive traumatic experiences without long-lasting impact on their psyches.

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