'Helping in a Time of Crisis' is theme of all-day conference at SUNY New Paltz
NEW PALTZ -- The Disaster Mental Health Institute at the State University of New York at New Paltz will hold an all-day conference, titled "Helping in a Time of Crisis," on May 6 in Lecture Center 100. The conference will feature keynote speaker Dr. John R. Tassey, who will discuss "The Oklahoma City Bombing: Reflections Ten Years Later."
Tassey, the national mental health consultant for the American Red Cross, also serves as director of the Health Psychology Clinic at the Department of Veterans Affairs at Oklahoma Medical Center and is an associate professor for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavior at Oklahoma University Health Science Center.
Tassey coordinated the mental health response to the AP Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995 and the May 1999 tornadoes in central Oklahoma. He was appointed chair of the American Psychological Association's Task Force on the mental health response to the Oklahoma City bombing. He was deployed to the Washington, D.C. area following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and subsequently trained mental health providers and the religious faith community in the greater New York area on the mental health consequences of mass casualty incidents.
Following the keynote, there will be a panel discussion, titled "A Coordinated Mental Health Response to Disaster," moderated by Dr. James Halpern, director of the Disaster Mental Health Institute at SUNY New Paltz, which will include expert representatives from state and county mental health, county social services, the Red Cross and disaster spiritual care.
"This conference highlights SUNY New Paltz as the center of competence in disaster mental health for our region," said Halpern, who was one of the first mental health professionals to offer support in New York City following the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. "It is intended for professionals, as well as non-professionals, to acquire the skills that will help to assist their neighbors in a time of crisis."
The afternoon address will be lead by speaker Jack Herrmann, M.S. Ed., N.C.C., who will discuss "Early Interventions and the Debriefing Debate."
Herrmann is an assistant professor of psychiatry and the director of the disaster mental health program at the University of Rochester Medical Center. An active disaster volunteer with the American Red Cross for the past 11 years, he serves as the volunteer disaster mental health leader for New York state and as the chair of the Emergency Response Committee for the Northeast Region and the Caribbean. Herrmann has responded to numerous disasters and is developing the curriculum for a national disaster mental health course.
There will also be professional workshops on helping in a time of crisis, including: "Psychological First Aid;" "Working with Diversity Following Trauma or Disaster;" "Long-Term Treatment of Traumatic Stress Reactions;" "Vicarious Traumatization and Self-care;" "Working with Children;" "Spiritual Care after Disaster;" "Innovative Community Outreach," and "Research in Disaster Studies."
Registration, which includes coffee breaks and lunch, is $25 for the public and free for SUNY New Paltz students, faculty and staff who pre-register. On-site registration (space limited) is $35. To register, call (845) 257-3033 or visit www.newpaltz.edu/dmhi.
The conference is sponsored by: The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; The Graduate School; The Department of Psychology; Campus Auxiliary Services; Major Connections; Office of the Provost; Minnewaska Lodge, and Orange Ulster BOCES.
For more information, contact James Halpern (845) 257-3479.
Note to editors (potential sidebar): The Disaster Mental Health Institute at SUNY New Paltz was founded in 2004 to prepare students, community members, paraprofessionals and professionals in the helping fields to care for others following a disaster via evidence-based disaster mental health interventions, content and skills. The institute offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in disaster studies focusing on events of natural, technological and human-induced origin and on how these affect individuals, communities, organizations and the nation and is designed to recognize the multi-disciplinary nature of both research and practice in disaster studies. Courses highlight scholarship and practice related to disaster and trauma mitigation and prevention; response; support; recovery; treatment; policy formulation and planning; as well as the implications of these events at the individual, group, organizational and community level. Those completing the minor will become certified responders for the American Red Cross.
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