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Fears for mental health of Myanmar cyclone survivors

BANGKOK (AFP) Fears for mental health of Myanmar cyclone survivors — Survivors of Myanmar's cyclone are plagued by visions of their lost loved ones and fears of further disaster as they try to summon the energy to rebuild their lives. Of the 2.4 million people affected by the cyclone which hit May 2-3, many remain in need of food, shelter and clean water, but many are also losing the will to survive. About 40% of the people assessed by medical teams in Myanmar's disaster zone are showing signs of mental health problems. "There are a lot of people who are very sad, very anxious, people have difficulties sleeping at night, they wake up, afraid that something may happen. They're reliving the moments of the disaster, seeing the last images of their relatives coming back in their dreams." As the floodwaters recede from villages and the vital rice-planting season begins, now is the most critical time for rebuilding efforts. But many have lost the will to work. One woman whose family died in the storm said, "You know, we are all worried about rice, but we are also worried about people having the motivation to eat it. My life is not worth living. I have lost all my family members." Orphaned children and the elderly who have lost their families are particularly at risk, with children lacking the motivation to play. Cycone Nargis left more than 133,000 people dead or missing.

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