1999 Marmara earthquakes: A review of epidemiologic findings and community mental health policies

Aker A. T.

TURK PSIKIYATRI DERGISI, vol.17, pp.204-212, 2006 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Title of Journal : TURK PSIKIYATRI DERGISI
  • Page Numbers: pp.204-212


Disasters are one of the most important priorities of community mental health. The Marmara earthquakes of August 17 and November 12,1999 powerfully demonstrated the negative impacts of disaster trauma. Despite some methodological differences, studies clearly indicate that mental health problems related to earthquakes in Turkey are very prevalent and long lasting. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depression (MD) are the most prevalent disorders in studies that are population-based and those that target high-risk groups. In various population-based studies, the PTSD prevalence ranged between 8% and 63% and the prevalence of MD was between 11% and 42%. On the other hand, PTSD prevalence was 2.7%-8.5% and MID was 1%-4.5% for at-risk populations, such as health professionals and rescue workers. These high rates show the importance and necessity of outreach studies. Additionally, the general population and some organizations and professionals have different requirements ranging from training to psychological support and treatment. These studies highlight the development of mental health services and policies. Turkey is situated in a disaster zone; thus, such knowledge and practices could help prepare the nation's population and national policy for future disasters. In this review, first, mental health effects of disasters and some epidemiological findings of the Marmara earthquakes are discussed in light of the literature, and then mental health approaches and policies for disasters are briefly evaluated.