Psychiatric Health Maintenance Facilities

Because serious behavioral problems will at some point arise in space, there are reasonable grounds for including a psychiatric component in the health care program for Mars mission. The purpose is to provide on-site management of the possible problem in order to avoid early termination of the mission or an expensive and dangerous evacuation of the crew. Supplies should be provided to diagnose and treat the psychiatric disorder. A precise diagnosis is important. It may reveal not known to exist problem onboard (this can be the availability of toxic fumes that produce brain injuries with the following behavioral problems).

Diagnosis is an essential condition for prognosis and treatment. Restraints should be onboard in case any member becomes violent or starts behaving in ways that could put in danger the entire mission, but they would be used hardly ever. Psychiatric treatment may be drug based, talk based, or some combination of both. Recent decades have witnessed remarkable advances in psychopharmacology; that is, the development of drugs capable of affecting mental activity. These drags tend to minimize, even eliminate, behavioral and other symptoms of mental disorders.

Different types of drugs are made to control unorganized thinking, reduce anxiety and fears, help people who suffer from depression, and so on. Talk therapy, states Santy, must be brief, well-organized, and to the point. The whole purpose is to ease the crew member through the troublesome situation. Detailed and deep therapy for problems relating to early childhood will have to wait. It is possible that one of the crew members will have enough training and skills to provide emergency counseling or therapy for some problems.

There exist some forms of counseling that can be used by astronauts who are not very well trained mental health experts but who are willing to be as peer counselors (Eagan 1978). It is also possible to organize psychotherapy trough video or e-mail conducted by a ground-based psychotherapist. Peer Support Fellow crew members play important roles in helping each other in coping with stress. One of the most effective motivators in stressful situations is the desire of astronauts not to let down their closest colleagues.

There is theory that the culture of isolated and enclosed individuals increases their hold over the individual and helps to cope with stress. Direct moral support from other people will minimize the effects of stress. Fellow crew members will be able to create or demonstrate proper and effective ways of responding and give useful advises on how to reduce the stress or at least minimize the effects. Peers play important role in helping space fellows better understand their own feelings, as well as friends who nurture them through difficult times.

A comprehensive understanding of the realities of the situation together with proper training in psychological first aid creates a solid basis for crew members’ attempts to help one another in spaceflight. Conclusion and Recommendations Outer space is improvident and may cause death. Transportation to and from Mars is extremely dangerous. People should rejoice that so few spacemen have lost their lives in space traveling so far. The harsh conditions on Mars should shape spacecraft design, life support systems, equipment and medical supplies, and special regimens for preserving life and health of the crew.

On Mars people must be inventive just to survive. Medical care system should not be too complacent about astronauts’ abilities to withstand the possible health problems of spaceflight. Furthermore, medical care system must be aware of the potential difficulties attendant upon psychological problems. The program should take steps to cover up all episodes. Space travelers themselves have little control on health problems. It is important to take into account the basic hazards of spaceflight, including acceleration, microgravity, and radiation.

Measures should be taken to alleviate undesirable biomedical consequences of life in space, such as space adaptation syndrome, muscular (including cardiovascular) deconditioning, altered immune systems, bone demineralization, and radiation poisoning. Definitely these effects are causing fear or discouragement, but so far there have been no “showstoppers,” because people understand the causes of these conditions and apply adequate-to-good countermeasures to prevent them.

The most important task of the program is to equip spacefarers to deal with everyday health problems, as well as with accidental injuries and the medical conditions that can abort the mission.


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“Moving in on Mars: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Life Support,” in Strategies for Mars: A Guide to Human Exploration, ed. Carol R. Stoker and Carter Emmart, San Diego, Calif. : American Astronautical Society/Univelt. Campbell, Mark R. and Roger D. Billica. (1992). “A Review of Microgravity Surgical Investigations,” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 63. Connors, Mary M. and Albert A. Harrison, and Faren R. Akins. (1985). Living Aloft: Human Requirements for Extended Spaceflight, NASA SP-483, Washington, D. C. , U. S. Government Printing Office. Crump, William J. , Bennie J. Levy, and Roger D. Billica.

(1996). “A Field Trial of the NASA Telemedicine Instrument Pack in a Family Practice,” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 67. Eagan, Gerard. (1978). The Skilled Helper, Monterey, Calif. : Brooks-Cole. for Human Space Exploration March 30, 2006. Available at: http://64. 233. 183. 104/search? q=cache:dBBpnramPm4J:policy. gmu. edu/oimp/reports/FinalReportPartII. pdf+%22Human+Health+and+Medical+Direction+for+Space+Exploration%22&hl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=ua Kanas, “Psychosocial Support for Cosmonauts”; Myasnikov and Zamaletdinov “Psychological States and Group Interactions of Crew Members in Flight. ”

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