Via MSF.org: Liberia: The psychological scars of Ebola. Excerpt:
Two years after the peak of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, survivors, as well as their families and health workers, are gradually rebuilding their lives. As MSF transfers its mental health services to the Liberian Ministry of Health, MSF psychiatrist Frédéric Gelly describes the process of psychological healing.
What effect did the Ebola epidemic have on people’s mental health?
“More than 4,800 Liberians died from Ebola in 2014 and 2015. Many people saw relatives die; some lost their whole families. Others continue to suffer from an extreme sense of guilt – for being the first in their family to catch Ebola and spread it to others, or for being the only one who survived. Two years later, they ask themselves over and over again: ‘Why did I survive and others die?’
"Religion is one way to deal with death, including rituals around burials. A shared sense of community and common beliefs can help reduce the pain and trauma of those close to you dying. But at the height of the epidemic, even this possibility was denied, as the government had to lay down strict rules about cremating the dead and forbade burial ceremonies.
"Liberians have had to face other traumatic situations in recent years, including grinding poverty, and violence, mass displacement and death during the 13-year civil war, which ended in 2003. The Ebola outbreak brought back this traumatic period to many, reminding them of a time when they were exposed to death, including the immediate possibility of their own death.
"The layer upon layer of traumas helps explain why it can be difficult to put to rest the memories of the Ebola epidemic. Psychological trauma is like a wound: although the skin heals, it still leaves behind a psychological scar.”