Study: Time to include mental health services in disaster response
Psychiatrists say disaster-related psychic trauma should be identified, triaged and treated the same as physical injuries
A new university study asserts that emergency planning and disaster response should include consideration for mental health services.
The paper from psychiatrists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, published in the August 7 Journal of the American Medical Association, provides a framework for disaster mental health response that can be used to guide overall response.
The authors reviewed over 1,000 articles pertaining to the after-effects of disasters on mental health, more than 200 of which showed disasters can exacerbate existing mental health problems and generate new disorders.
“While adverse mental health outcomes following a disaster may not be as apparent as physical injuries such as broken bones, bleeding, and other obvious trauma, our review clearly shows that mental injuries are prevalent and require a similar system for identifying, triaging and treating these individuals, just as you would those with physical injuries,” said coauthor Dr. Carol North, UT Southwestern Medical Center professor of Psychiatry and Surgery, and director of the Program in Trauma and Disaster, VA North Texas Health Care System.
North told PoliceOne that different disaster-affected populations will have different mental health needs that will vary with regard to the characteristics of the disaster and to their exposures to it. North said nine out of 10 people are likely to experience trauma in their lifetimes.
North said evidence-based treatments are available for patients with active psychiatric disorders, but psychosocial interventions such as psychological first aid, psychological debriefing, crisis counseling, and psycho-education for individuals with distress have not been sufficiently evaluated to establish their benefit or harm in disaster settings.
|Back to previous page|