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Disaster Mental Health Community Planning: A Manual for Trauma-Informed Collaboration

Citation (APA style): Schmidt, R. W., & Cohen, S. L. (2020). Four principles of disaster mental health (Chapter 2). Disaster mental health community planning: A manual for trauma-informed collaboration. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


Background: Through collaborative disaster mental health planning, communities can develop the most effective means for helping their residents whose mental health may be harmfully impacted by a disaster. Chapter 2 reviews the four principles critical for successful community planning. First, form a “collaboration” with other community members concerned about their residents’ mental health needs and share ideas, expertise, and a common vision and mission for creating a disaster psychological intervention action plan. Second, follow the tenets of constructive interpersonal “communication”: trust, objectivity, listening skills, ethics, and openness to new ideas. Third, determine through a mental health community wide assessment the most “vulnerable”–“at risk”–populations including first responders, who suffer the most psychologically in a disaster, and then develop a plan to reduce this risk. Fourth, incorporate the guiding principles of “trauma-informed care” into all phases of disaster mental health planning and psychological intervention to ensure every survivor receives the treatment that best mitigates trauma and PTSD and creates long-term personal well being. Neuroscientists are continuing to learn more about how the brain responds and changes with trauma and how trauma-specific/brain-based treatments best treat Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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