This course will acquaint nurses with the various aspects of training, assessment, and preparation for disaster with a focus on disaster mental health (DMH) practice in the United States. The course presents protocols for disaster response that consider the immediate concerns following a disaster, natural recovery patterns, and common challenges to recovery. The course describes psychological sequelae of disaster, including common traumatic stress reactions such as intrusive reactions, avoidance reactions, and physical arousal reactions. Other sequelae described include acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, substance-related disorders, and anxiety disorders. Some common factors that predict a victim’s ongoing and future impairment following exposure to a disaster are described, although this is a continuing challenge that is not yet fully understood. A model of DMH is presented that resembles a triage system in which at-risk individuals are identified, assessed, and monitored through various stages, while those who appear to be recovering appropriately are provided with resources for additional care. The model includes general guidelines for DMH providers and describes self-care for providers. Nurses will learn about the characteristics of successful DMH workers, qualifications, and training resources. Ethical concerns in the DMH setting are described as well.
American Psychiatric Association. (2014). Disaster psychiatry. Retrieved from http://www.psychiatry.org/practice/professional-interests/disaster-psychiatry
Boscarino, J. A., Hoffman, S. N., Adams, R. E., Figley, C. R., & Solhkhah, R. (2014). Mental health outcomes among vulnerable residents after Hurricane Sandy: Implications for disaster research and planning. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, 9(2), 107–120. Abstract retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25068940?tool=MedlinePlus
Framingham, J., & Teasley, M. L. (Eds.). (2012) Behavioral health response to disasters. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Shallcross, L. (2012, February 1). A calming presence. Counseling Today. Retrieved from http://ct.counseling.org/2012/02/a-calming-presence/
Shaw, J. A., Espinel, Z., & Shultz, J. M. (2012). Care of children exposed to the traumatic effects of disaster. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Weems, C. F., & Graham, R. A. (2014). Resilience and trajectories of posttraumatic stress among youth exposed to disaster. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 24(1), 2–8. Abstract retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24200122