A new study shows that the Beirut port explosion had a grave impact on the mental health of Lebanese expats, leaving them with anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
“Everyone, including doctors, should be more sensitive to expatriates around them; we should look out for them especially when their home country is going through a traumatic event,” study investigator Gaëlle Rached, told Medscape Medical News.
The survey’s findings were presented at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2022 Annual Meeting.
According to Rached, the trauma related to Lebanese expats is understudied. Her statement ensued after she and her colleagues used social media platforms to advertise the survey, and she was surprised by the level of survivor’s guilt and other factors the Lebanese expats were enduring.
The survey included 670 adults of Lebanese nationality who in turn completed the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist (HSCL), which screens the levels of anxiety and depression.
It was found that 41.2% of participants scored higher than the threshold. “Being younger, female, and visiting Lebanon at the time of the blast, were factors associated with higher HSCL scores,” stated Medscape Medical News.
Interestingly, the time since the surveyed expats emigrated from Lebanon did not affect the scores. “Our results show that no matter how long you’ve been away, you’re prone to the same negative outcome,” Rached shared.
Of the total participants, 268 experienced the explosion, and/or have relatives who did.
These expats then completed the Post-traumatic Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), which showed that 57.5% of these respondents scored above 33, which is a higher score than the threshold for PTSD.
The findings showed that the mental health of people living abroad can be affected negatively by the incidents happening in their home countries, even if they haven’t lived or witnessed them up close or in person.
Worth mentioning that Embrace Lebanon has recently launched one-on-one therapy sessions online for the Lebanese (or Arab-speaking) residing abroad. It provides psychiatry and psychotherapy services of a high standard for those who find it hard to interact with local therapists around the world.
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If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the friendly team at Embrace by calling 1564.