Mental health effects from radiological accidents and their social management
J. Brenot, S. Charron and P. Verger
IRPA-10: 10. international congress of the International Radiation Protection Association Hiroshima (Japan) 14-19 May 2000, P10-165.
Large radiological accidents always induce health effects to affected populations. Effects are due not only to radiation exposure but also to society disruption, economic disorganization and environmental impacts.
Somatic diseases, acute or chronic, appear jointly with sizeable and durable psychological disorders that cover psychic suffering, changes in risk perception and in individual and social behaviours. Psychic suffering can be simply the perception that the psychic well being has been deteriorated; but it can be also more severe and handicap daily life by the presence of well characterized clinical symptoms, defining sometimes a pathological state. All these different aspects are damaging health, as defined by WHO: a state of well being mental, physical and social (1). One must first specify the psychological effects studied and how they are assessed. Second, a brief survey will be done of the main effects observed in the aftermath of the three major radiological accidents occurred during the late twenty years, Three Mile Island (1979), Goiania (1987) and Chernobyl (1986). Third, one develops social responses which were brought to reduce the psychological consequences to affected individuals and communities.