The 33 miners trapped underneath a Chilean mountain are safe. The most challenging task now is making sure the miners don’t lose their sanity as they await rescue.
Freeing the miners could take several months, the Chilean government has warned. “The biggest risk the miners face now is developing post-traumatic stress disorder,” explains Dr. Jennifer Wild, a clinical psychologist at King’s College, London. “PTSD takes a month to develop, and now the miners have been trapped for almost a month.”
So far, the miners have held up well. “They know where they are in the mine, so they have no illusions about how long it will take to liberate them,” notes Dr. James Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at University College, London. “Among civilians, one third usually show prompt psychological effects after traumas. The fact that only five of the miners are depressed is remarkable.”
The miners have already organized a work schedule in their underground prison. That has the dual benefit of making the shaft more livable and keeping the miners busy.
“But family members can also send the men handheld gaming devices with extra battery packs,” advises Wild. “Playing digital games will help stimulate their minds while they are underground.”