Counselling for 15,000

Felix Chaudhary, Thursday, April 28, 2016.

MORE than 15,000 people have received counselling in the wake of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston and due to the extent of need, counselling services are expected to continue for up to one year.

This was the view of Empower Pacific CEO Patrick Morgam, who said 26 counsellors had been on the ground for the past nine weeks and more counsellors were being sought from Australia and New Zealand in a bid to meet the high demand for services.

"We were on the ground the Monday after TC Winston and the reports we have received over the past nine weeks have been reflective of the trauma caused by Winston," he said.

"Our counsellors are exhausted but they continue to go out and provide psychological first aid and follow up treatment because the most vulnerable — children and the elderly — are really in bad shape.

"Whenever there's rain or lightning, the children cry and the elderly get agitated.

"We have also noted an increase in arguments within communities, children being distracted in school and absenteeism.

"These are all signs of trauma and if counselling is not provided then there are long term effects as well."

Mr Morgam said one issue Empower Pacific faced was access to resources.

"Immediately after TC Winston, UN Women and Australian Aid came forward with funds but we have not received anything else since," he said.