Mclean Hospital

Video: Disaster Mental Health – A Compassionate Response to Crisis

Available with English captions.

Christine Tebaldi, PMHNP-BC, McLean Hospital – McLean Forum lecture

Disasters of all types have become more common in the United States and across the globe, with no example more prominent than the current coronavirus pandemic. The broad impact on individuals, communities, and health systems is a growing challenge that requires the assimilation of best practices and coordinated efforts among hospitals, community providers, government agencies, and more.

Presentation highlights include:

  • Description of the full cycle of emergency preparedness and disaster response
  • Identification of psychological consequences of disaster and associated behavioral health interventions
  • Explanation of incident command systems and how numerous disaster response entities collaborate

The range of psychological and psychosocial reactions to disaster is extensive. These responses are often observed in those directly impacted by catastrophic events. In addition, the workforce responding to disaster is also greatly affected and may exhibit similar associated cognitive, physical, and emotional reactions. These behavioral health impacts are all too often overlooked or inadequately managed given the complexity of response structures and the existing gaps in care for mental health and substance use conditions.

Behavioral health providers are uniquely positioned to be key contributors in disaster response given the high degree of biopsychosocial knowledge and expertise within the profession. Disaster mental health is a well-defined role in emergency preparedness and disaster response. The principles of psychological first aid, critical incident stress debriefing, crisis management, and trauma-informed care, in a rapid response model, are utilized to mitigate long-term effects of potentially traumatic events.

February 11, 2021

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