• Nursing
  • Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Psychiatric Technicians
Hours: 3 Contact Hours
Author(s): Bradley E. Belsher, MSW
Peer Reviewer(s):
  • Margaret M. (Peggy) O'Neill, PhD, LCSW
  • Jennifer Housley, MS, PhD
Item#: N1619
1 Course Book (52 pages)

Disaster Mental Health: Preparation, Training, and Practice, Updated 1st Edition

Price $19.95
Item # N1619
When available, the Online Course format is included with the hard copy, eBook, or audio book formats!

Note: This course must be completed by 12/31/16. Contact hours will not be awarded beyond this date.

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. 

Click here for a list of supplemental references.

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


Course Objectives

  • Describe disaster mental health and the history of its development.
  • Describe the expected reactions for survivors of mass disaster and the most commonly observed disorders.
  • Discuss a three-stage model for disaster mental health and psychological first aid.
  • Discuss considerations in becoming a disaster mental health worker.
  • Explain the disaster mental health components involved in pre-disaster planning.
Bradley E. Belsher, MSW, received a master of social work degree with a specialization in healthcare from Catholic University of America and a bachelor of arts degree from Georgetown University. Mr. Belsher has provided mental health counseling to a wide array of populations, including early intervention therapy to trauma survivors. Additionally, he has served as program coordinator for the Palo Alto Medical Reserve Corps, an organization that provides training in disaster mental health and psychological first aid. His research interests include disaster mental health, early intervention for trauma survivors, health psychology, and neuropsychology.
Margaret M. (Peggy) O’Neill, PhD, LCSW, is currently a senior lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work and co-director of HOPE NY of the Center for Family Education and Resilience (CFER) at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. O’Neill has more than 20 years of experience in clinical practice, administration, and organizational consulting with and within the public, voluntary, not-for-profit, and corporate sectors. Her areas of expertise include the effects of trauma, the power of human resilience, and the interactions among and between diverse community members, care providers, and decision makers as they affect the mental health impact of a disaster. Dr. O’Neill’s recent projects include the development, implementation, and evaluation of trainings designed with and for community and spiritual leaders and critical decision makers at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to enhance their public health emergency communication and coping skills.

Jennifer Housley, MS, PhD, received her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (now Palo Alto University) in Palo Alto, California. She currently works for the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, where she supervises the Integrated Behavioral Health Care program. As a former fellow of the National Center on the Psychology of Terrorism, Dr. Housley provided program development services for national organizations and served as program director and lead instructor for the Palo Alto Medical Reserve Corps. Dr. Housley has published on topics including mass casualty disaster, trauma response, health psychology, and performance psychology. Dr. Housley’s research interests include investigating key psychological factors contributing to an individual’s ability to withstand physical and psychological discomfort in the service of goal achievement. She has received national awards and commendations for her contributions to public service psychology through research, practice, program development, training, and advocacy.

  • Contact hours will be awarded for up to one (1) year from the date the course is ordered.
  • You must score 75% or higher on the final exam and complete the course evaluation to pass this course and receive a certificate of completion.
  • Through our review processes, Western Schools ensures that this course content is presented in a balanced, unbiased manner and is free from commercial influence. It is Western Schools’ policy not to accept commercial support.
  • All persons involved in the planning and development of this course have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to the course content.