147532 Post-disaster public and mental health obstacles in Mississippi: Identifying strategies for interagency collaboration

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 8:30 AM

Daniel Bender, MHS , Health Services, Mississippi Department of Health, Jackson, MS
Juanita C. Graham, MSN RN , Health Services Chief Nurse, Mississippi State Department of Health, Jackson, MS
Objective: To identify strategies for public and mental health collaboration in post-disaster Mississippi Background: A disaster has implications for both public and mental health agencies. At particular risk are those deployed to participate in both short and long term recovery activities. The ongoing recovery and rebuilding activities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast continue to place workers at risk for long term mental health problems. This demonstrates an opportunity for collaboration between public and mental health agencies in Mississippi to combat ongoing post-Katrina related mental illness and as preparedness measures for future disasters. Strategies: Opportunities for collaboration exist in development of educational materials, identification of deployable mental health professionals, housing of mental health service coordinators in staff gathering places, defining chains of communication between agencies, development of screening and referral processes, piloting of processes in currently “emotionally stressed” areas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, installation of measures and tracking systems to insure outreach efforts match numbers of deployed staff, and penning of memorandums of understanding to solidify relationships. Conclusions: Restoring public health infrastructure must include access to preventive and restorative mental health services to reduce long term mental health problems among individuals serving Mississippians in disaster recovery. Collaborative efforts between public and mental health agencies are mandatory to maintain optimal mental health for disaster workers. Public Health Implications: A disaster, whether natural of man-made, has implications for both public and mental health agencies during the emergent period immediately following the disaster and throughout the recovery process of an extensive disaster.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, participants will be able to: 1. Discuss mental health implications for disaster recovery workers 2. List strategies for collaboration between public and mental health agencies during post-disaster recovery.

Keywords: Disasters, Recovery

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.