Mental health challenges face newly freed Chilean miners - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mental health challenges face newly freed Chilean miners

Mental health challenges face newly freed Chilean miners

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San Diego (CBS8) - The 33 Chilean miners who spent 70 full days trapped underground may face mental health challenges in the coming days and months.

"The primary focus has been on their physical health, but there's also concern for their mental and emotional health as well," local psychiatrist Philip Botkiss, told News 8. Dr. Botkiss, who is Clinical Director at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital says, "When people are exposed to traumatic event they can experience symptoms of nightmares, flashbacks, and recollections of what they went through"

According to the Associated Press, rescued miner Mario Sepulveda told a doctor in Chile about an internal "fight with the devil" that he had inside the mine. The doctor also reported that the youngest miner, 19 year old Jimmy Sanchez, the father of a newborn, appeared to be having a hard time adjusting and seemed depressed.

"When you've been in a traumatic event like this, you've been sensory deprived for so many days and a lot of things can happen to the brain," Botkiss says, adding "so I'm not surprised there are some of these people who develop some disorganized thinking and even a loss of touch with reality."

Family life has changed for some of the men these past 70 days. One miner became a father-- his wife had a baby while he was underground. Another miner's wife refused to greet him at the rescue site, after his affair with a mistress was publicized.

The miners had a psychiatric team while underground, and Dr. Botkiss says that support should continue.

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