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Long-Term Impacts of Natural Disasters, Like Cyclone Jasper

Natural disasters impact communities in so many ways. For months and even years after, people can feel and experience the effects of a major weather event, like floods, cyclones and fires. The communities of Far-North Queensland are no stranger to the impacts on Mental Health in Cairns from these events.

In December 2023, Cyclone Jasper impacted thousands of Far-North Queensland’s residences, including 90% of businesses across 13 of the state’s local government areas. Many months later, and we are just starting to see the after-effects of trauma from the 2 category weather event, many of whom are seeking support. As therapists, we see people who are identifying long-term mental health concerns in themselves or their loved ones, seeking help to feel a sense of their pre-Jasper self. 

This guide to long-term impacts of natural disasters, like Cyclone Jasper, aims to help you identify when you or someone else may be experiencing roll-on effects from a major weather event, and support available.

Cyclone Jasper

Potential Long-Term Effects of Natural Disasters on Mental Health

Studies suggest 24% of people affected by disasters will develop clinically significant post-traumatic stress disorder in the first six months following the event. As time goes on, 28% will develop depression symptoms and 23% will develop anxiety. However, while both adults and children experience mental health concerns, the rates are significantly higher, increasing the need for awareness of not only our own mental state, but those around us.

Adults impacted by natural disasters can feel a long-term sense of grief, loss, fear, panic, sadness, even anger. You may feel yourself or notice someone you know getting irritable or lashing out, not sleeping or eating well, or becoming more withdrawn. Even if you were not directly impacted or not impacted ‘as much’ as someone else, you may feel guilt over ‘why them and not me’. 

The long-term effects of loss of people, property, businesses and more can also cause mental health concerns to arise many months, even years following a natural disaster, like Cyclone Jasper. It’s important to identify any changes in yourself and in others to be able to seek out or provide the right suppor

In children:

Children are seen to experience the same mental health concerns as adults with significantly higher cases of depression and anxiety. They may also develop separation anxiety or be seen re-enacting the events they experienced in play. Changes often appear at school, and there is a higher chance of substance abuse in teenagers who have been impacted by a natural disaster.

Families are often separated during natural disasters. There is also often tension in the family following the event while adults handle and navigate their own mental state, financial burdens and other responsibilities.This can also contribute to anxiety in children, and can expand into other mental health concerns

Mental Health

When to Seek Mental Health Help in Cairns Following a Natural Disaster

Signs you or someone you know may need to seek mental health support in Cairns following a natural disaster:


  • Becoming withdrawn.

  • Depressed moods.

  • Getting startled easily.

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep.

  • Loss of interest in activities or people.

  • Experiencing nightmares.

  • Becoming extremely distressed at reminders of the disaster.

  • Avoiding conversations, news or memories of the disaster.

  • Becoming irritable.

  • Sudden decrease in self-esteem.

  • Increased use of substances, including alcohol.

  • Changes in appetite.

  • Increased fear and anxiety, including agitation, shortness of breath, etc.

  • Change in behaviour at school and grades.


If you or anyone you know you know are experiencing these changes, please speak to your GP or seek out support


Support Available for Those Impacted By Cyclone Jasper in Cairns

There are many types of support still available to those impacted by Cyclone Jasper. These are just some of the resources and help available to you depending on your needs.

Counselling Services

Government Assistance

Disaster Health Care Assistance Scheme to help with reasonable out-of-pocket costs for health care following a natural disaster.

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