13 Feb 2019 1931 Earthquake Commemorative lecture: Shaky Times – The Christchurch earthquakes and all that followed

Wednesday 13 February at 5.30pm

National Aquarium, Marine Parade, Napier

Associate Professor Caroline Bell

Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Canterbury
Clinical Head of the Anxiety Disorders Service, Canterbury District Health Board.

Gold coin admission

Over an 18 month period between 2010 and 2011 there were 4 major earthquakes and over 12,000 aftershocks in Christchurch, New Zealand. This resulted in 185 deaths and huge damage to the city.  There were also widespread secondary stressors including complex economic and practical consequences which compounded the difficulties of many.

As a result some people developed mental health disorders, some reported subsyndromal problems, some post-traumatic growth but most just soldiered on. This highlights the enigma of understanding why some people develop PTSD after exposure to a traumatic life event while others, exposed to the same experiences, do not.

From her experience as a psychiatrist dealing with the spectrum of responses over this period, Dr Bell will discuss the psychological impact of the Christchurch earthquakes. This includes how people were affected, the phases of what was seen, what was helpful and the challenges of working in a chaotic, post-disaster environment.

Since the Canterbury earthquakes Caroline has been the clinical lead of a specialist mental health service set up to treat people with post traumatic earthquake related distress. She has been studying the psychological and neurobiological effects of the earthquakes in both people presenting with significant earthquake related distress and those identifying as resilient.