Effective mental health interventions in wake of disasters is conference focus
College awarded $48,000 competitive federal grant to fund event
NEW PALTZ - The Institute for Disaster Mental Health at the State University of New York at New Paltz will hold its sixth annual conference on Friday, April 17, with the theme “In the Wake of Disaster: Effective Mental Health Interventions.”
The conference will promote disaster preparedness and planning in order to support health and mental health providers, emergency management personnel, spiritual care providers, first responders and community responders who provide assistance to survivors and their families in the early aftermath of a disaster.
Karla Vermeulen, Institute for Disaster Mental Health coordinator, said this year’s conference is funded by a competitive Knowledge Dissemination Conference Grant totaling $48,121 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Funding from the program, which awards only two grants per year, is used to disseminate information about best practices within the mental health services; substance abuse prevention; and substance abuse treatment fields at regionally and nationally significant conferences. “It was quite a thrill for us to receive it in our first year's try,” said Vermeulen.
The conference’s morning keynote by Chris Brewin of the Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology Department at the University College, London, will highlight recent evidence-based approaches to the assessment and treatment of disaster survivors and their families. His talk is titled “Principles and Research on Early Intervention and the Screen and Treat Approach.” Brewin is a clinical psychologist specializing in both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and memory.
Following Brewin’s keynote speech, there will be an expert panel focusing on the theme of “Innovations in Early Intervention.” Panel participants include Gerald McCleery of the Mental Health Association of New York City; Paula Madrid of the Psychosocial Preparedness Division of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University; and Monica Indart from the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services – Disaster and Terrorism Branch.
A lunchtime panel, moderated by Alan Chartock, president of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, will focus on issues of cooperation and coordination among New York state agencies involved in disaster mental health response efforts.
Meanwhile, afternoon workshops will provide in-depth information and training on interventions; self-care for helpers; spiritual care; assistance for first responders, bereaved children and people with substance abuse issues; and other topics.
“Our keynote speaker, panelists and workshop leaders have played leading roles in responding to major catastrophes around the world,” said James Halpern, director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health. “They can, therefore, offer innovative perspectives that can have a real impact on how disaster mental health services are delivered in New York state and beyond.”
Conference sponsors include the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the New York State Office of Mental Health; the New York State Department of Health; and Campus Auxiliary Services.
For more detailed information about the workshops, the speakers and to register, visit www.newpaltz.edu/idmh/conference.html.
The Institute for Disaster Mental Health has been assembled under the aegis of the college’s newly established Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (www.newpaltz.edu/crreo), whose mission is to conduct studies on topics of regional interest; bring visibility and focus to these matters; foster communities working together to better serve citizenry; and advance the public interest in our region.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.