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Mental Health Journal At OHSU Focuses on National Disasters, Dangers, Decisions

01/13/06  Portland, Ore.

With recent hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, bioterrorism, terrorism and tsunamis, "It's a wonder we all don't have mental health issues," said Bentson McFarland, M.D., Ph.D., editor of Community Mental Health Journal and professor of psychiatry and of public health and preventive medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

A special section in the most recent issue, "Disaster Dangers and Decisions," focuses on the behavioral health aspects of disasters. Four authors write about their findings following disasters such as floods and terrorism.

"We felt the need to do this for several reasons: the slew of hurricanes this past summer, the concern about terrorism, floods, earthquakes. We need to learn what are the mental health issues after a disaster so we can better respond," McFarland said.

Lessons learned from recent disasters include:

* Institutions need to be better prepared beforehand. It is crucial that they have adequate supplies of medications, water, food and strategies for contacting other needed services.

* Institutions, such as prisons, nursing homes and hospitals need to be able to quickly evacuate people.

* Behavioral health providers should think of themselves as second responders. They are needed two to three months after the disaster, when behavioral responses such as sleep disturbances, nightmares and post-traumatic stress are most common among those involved in the disaster.

Articles in the special section include: "A Profile of Mental Health Crisis Response in a Rural Setting"; "The Experiences of Project Liberty Crisis Counselors in the Bronx" following the Sept.  11 terrorist attacks; "Incorporating Community Mental Health Into Local Bioterrorism Response Planning: Experiences From DeKalb County Board of Health;" and "The Impact of Flooding on the Mental Health of Affected People in South Korea."

The Community Mental Health Journal is dedicated to the improvement of public sector services for people who are affected by or at risk of severe mental disorders, serious emotional disturbances, and/or addictions.  The journal publishes bi-monthly, nationally representative epidemiologic projects, intervention research involving benefit and risk comparisons between service programs or treatments, and timely papers addressing behavioral health planning and response.
 
The Community Mental Health Journal is peer-reviewed and is circulated worldwide.  It is in its 40th year of publication and is published by Springer. The journal is located in the Department of Psychiatry in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine.

For access to online issues, visit Springer's Web site at www.springeronline.com.

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