Story by Sharon Vanhouwe, Vista Radio

VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has done some research on the effects of evacuations as a result of wildfires.

Dr. Vincent Agyapong says a six-month study following the Fort McMurray fires found the incidences of major depression were as high as 24 per cent in that population.

He says a similar community might normally have a rate of around 15 per cent.

He says it’s important to recognize there is a psychological toll from wildfires, whether you watch them on the television, or are an evacuee, or a first responder.

“We know that it’s important for people to reach out and to accept help from family and friends. We know it’s important for people to begin very early to replace images of the wildfire with something that has gone well or some happy memories,” he said.

Agyapong also noted it’s important that victims engage in physical activity, which will then help their mental state following a wildfire situation.

There are more than two dozen evacuation orders in effect in B.C. as a result of wildfires.