Lecture – Disaster Mental Health – A Compassionate Response to Crisis

Available with English captions.

Presented by 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. Disasters require the coordination of best practices and combined efforts among hospitals, community providers, government agencies, and more.

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 used to lessen the long-term effects of potentially traumatic events. Behavioral health providers are uniquely positioned to be key contributors in disaster response.

Watch now to learn more about discuss:

  • The full cycle of emergency preparedness and disaster response
  • Psychological consequences of disaster and associated behavioral health interventions
  • Scaling of a full disaster operation and the disaster recovery framework
  • Incident command systems and how numerous disaster response entities collaborate

In this lecture, Tebaldi begins by offering some history of providing mental health care in response to disasters.

She says the mental health consequences of war essentially provided the building blocks for the development of disaster mental health.

She references Florence Nightingale, who provided nursing care during the Crimean War. Tebaldi describes her as a compassionate presence who provided emotional support to soldiers who were suffering. She also discusses Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.

Tebaldi addresses the significance of a disaster’s type and scope. She discusses natural disasters, human-caused disasters, and public health emergencies.

The range of psychological and psychosocial reactions to such disasters is extensive, says Tebaldi. These responses are observed in those directly impacted by catastrophic events and the workforce responding to a disaster. These two groups may exhibit similar cognitive, physical, and emotional reactions—impacts that are often overlooked or inadequately managed.