According to two psychiatrists, the Thai boys trapped in a cave for 10 days could teach us all important lessons on the benefits of looking after one another and working as a team.
Dr Mark Berelowitz, head of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) at the Royal Free Hospital, was joined by Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, who previously trained at the Royal Free Hospital and was minister of education in Thailand in 2018 when the Wild Boars football team and their coach were rescued from the Tham Luang Nang Non caves in Thailand by an international team of divers at a special event last week.
At the medicine for members event at the Royal Free Hospital Dr Jareonsettasin, who has spoken to the boys about their experiences, and Dr Berelowitz discussed how the boys’ attitudes help them through the ordeal of being trapped in the dark without food or water.
Dr Jareonsettasin, said: “Some months after they were rescued, we thought we should learn something about how they coped. We were waiting for them to develop post-traumatic stress disorder – but months later and they still did not have it.
“They did not have flashbacks or depression or anxiety. Their teachers said their mental health was better than it was before. They felt strong, they are very happy – all of them. The reason is that they were not traumatised in the first place.”
Dr Berelowitz added that the boys had some useful ways of remaining optimistic and keeping their spirits up during their time in the cave. They thought they would get through this together, and that the most important thing is the team. They trusted one another.
He said: “The boys knew that waiting for rescue wouldn’t work, they got on with life, they got on with the job in hand which was looking after one another and there was no blame directed towards the coach.
“After they were rescued, they didn’t want fame or celebrity. They are grateful to the world. They are grateful they were rescued.”
Based on how the boys coped, Dr Jareonsettasin and Dr Berelowitz think that the best resilience is collective or community-based resilience.
Judy Dewinter, the Royal Free London’s lead governor and chair of the event, said: “It was a real privilege to chair this very special event on behalf of the council of governors and to hear such fascinating insights from Dr Berelowitz and Dr Jareonsettasin about the experience, the grit and determination of the boys trapped in the cave.
“It was an inspiring event and the learning around resilience and well-being has given the trust a wonderful platform to plan new ways of working to support staff in delivering the best care to patients.”
To view the talk given by Dr Jareonsettasin and Dr Berelowitz go to our Facebook page: www.facebook/RoyalFreeNHS
Image: Dr Mark Berelowitz, Judy Dewinter and Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin