AAPA Statement on Super Typhoon Haiyan
November 13, 2013
The Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) sends our heartfelt condolences to the victims, families and friends who have been impacted by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Haiyan is being labeled as one of the strongest storms in world history. As psychologists and mental health practitioners, we recognize that natural disasters do not only take people’s lives and cause immense physical damage to homes and communities, but that there are many psychological and emotional consequences as well.
First and foremost, we wish to recognize those individuals who have been directly affected by the super typhoon. According to recent reports, there have been 1,800 confirmed deaths and approximately 550,000 people who have been displaced from their homes. Many areas in the Philippines are still without food, water, or electricity; and many individuals are still looking for their loved ones who are still missing from the storm. Secondly, we recognize that there are many individuals who have also been impacted by this tragedy. There are many Filipinos across the globe who are unable to contact their family members in these affected regions, as well as many Filipino Americans who may feel a vicarious trauma of knowing that their home country is suffering.
The Division on Filipino Americans (DoFA), part of the AAPA strives to create a space to improve mental health in Filipino and Filipino American communities. If you are experiencing any emotional distress in reaction to this tragedy or have questions about mental health and wellness in response to trauma and crisis, please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our webpage at https://www.facebook.com/groups/filampsych/for information, support, and referral for services. While we recognize that mental health issues are rarely discussed in Filipino American families, we highly encourage individuals who may be experiencing any emotional distress to talk about their feelings with loved ones or with mental health professionals.
Many people will want to donate money to help the Philippines. There are many relief organizations helping the Philippines. In selecting an organization to donate to, we encourage you to: (a) inquire what percentage of donations actually go to relief efforts (as opposed to administrative expenses) and (b) inquire if the relief efforts are culturally competent, in that they collaborate with and empower the Filipino people. Two reputable campaigns that provide direct relief to the Philippines include:
1) Sagip-Tulong sa Pilipinas Relief Fund Campaign
2) NAFCON (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns)
Finally, I wanted to end by sharing my personal connection to this tragedy. My parents are both from the province of Aklan, which is located on the island of Panay, in the western Visayan region of the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan caused significant damage to my parents’ hometowns, though there were not as many casualties as there were in places like Tacloban or Ormoc.
These past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions for me (as I’m sure it has been for many others). While I feel fortunate that all of my aunties, uncles, and cousins are still alive, I am also devastated that their homes and communities have been destroyed. While I feel thankful of the generosity and compassion that people have shown toward the Philippines, my heart is breaking for those whose lives were lost, and for those who they left behind.
I ask that you all keep the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers. I also ask that you support any Filipino/ Filipino American friends or loved ones who may be struggling with this tragedy. It is through tragedies like these that we need to support each other and take care of each other most.
Kevin Nadal, PhD
Vice President, Asian American Psychological Association
The Asian American Psychological Association is the primary, national organization dedicated to the advancement of the psychological well-being of Asian Americans.