ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH NEWSLETTER

ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH NEWSLETTER

Learning From The Past and Planning For The Future

MENTAL HEALTH MOMENT July 18, 2003

"Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who
dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower


Short Subjects
LINKS

Mental Health Moment Online

CISM/CISD Annotated Links

Gulf War Syndrome

WILDLAND FIRE INFORMATION

FIRE CAREER ASSISTANCE

CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS:

NIMH Meeting Announcements

Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)
September 30 - October 4, 2003
Denver, Colorado

THIRD ANNUAL
CRITICAL INCIDENT STRESS MANAGEMENT
WORKSHOP SERIES

Rocky Mountain Region
Disaster Mental Health Institute
Dates & Locations:
Laramie, WY: November 12-15, 2003
Casper, WY: November 19-22, 2003
Contact: George W. Doherty
Box 786
Laramie, WY 82073
Email: rockymountain@mail2emergency.com

The Australasian Critical Incident
Stress Association Conference

The Right Response in the
21st Century

Location: Carlton Crest Hotel
Melbourne Australia
Friday October 3, 2003 thru
Sunday October 5, 2003
For further information
please contact the conference organisers:
ammp@optushome.com.au
Conference Website:
http://www.acisa.org.au/ conference2003/

6th Annual Conference
The University of South Dakota
Disaster Mental Health Institute

"Innovations in Disaster Psychology:
Time for a New Paradigm?
Reflecting on the Past:
Looking to the Future"

Radisson Hotel
Rapid City, SD
September 18-20, 2003

Asian American Psychological Association
Annual Convention
August 6, 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario
CANADA

111th Annual Convention of
the American Psychological Association (APA)

August 7 - 11, 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario
CANADA
Contact: Convention Office, APA
750 First Street NE
Washington DC 20002-4242 USA
Phone: +1-202-336-5500

Minnesota International Counseling Institute:
Global Mental Health in a Turbulent World

July 27-August 1, 2003
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Contact:
Minnesota International Counseling Institute
CSPP/Department of Education Psychology
University of Minnesota
178 Pilsbury Drive, SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
E-mail: cspp-adm@tc.umn.edu

8TH International Conference on Family Violence
September 16 - 20, 2003
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Contact: "FV Conference 2003"
Attn: Lisa Conradi
Conference Co-Coordinator
6160 Cornerstone Court East
San Diego, CA 9212, USA
Phone: +1-858-623-2777 ext. 427
Email: fvconf@alliant.edu

Middle East/North Africa Regional
Conference of Psychology

December 13 - 16, 2003
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Contact: Dr. Raymond H. Hamden
MENA RCP, PO Box 11806
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971-4- 331-4777
Fax: +971-4-331-4001
E-mail: menarcp@hotmail.com

1st International Conference on
Psychophysiology of Panic Attacks
September 5 - 8 2003
Location: London, UNITED KINGDOM
Contact: stonesa@wmin.ac.uk

European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP)
September 17 - 20, 2003
Location: Granada, SPAIN

Society for Judgment and
Decision Making Annual Meeting

November 10 - 11 2003
Location: Vancouver, CANADA

Society of Australasian
Social Psychologists 33rd Annual Meeting

April 15 - 18, 2004
Location: Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

27th National AACBT Conference
(Australian Association for
Cognitive and Behavior Therapy)

May 15 - 19, 2004
Location: Perth, Western Australia
AUSTRALIA


HURRICANE CLAUDETTE BATTERS TEXAS COAST

Hurricane Claudette battered the Texas coast packing winds of 75 mph. The category 1 storm made landfall Tuesday. FEMA has activated the Regional Operations Center in Texas and has dispatched it's Mobile Emergency Response Support units to the coast in anticipation of Claudette's arrival. Claudette is the first hurricane of the 2003 season which began on June 1 and will last until November 30. See the following for further information: http://www.fema.gov/press/ap/ap071503b.shtm

WILDFIRE SEASON IS IN FULL SWING IN WESTERN US

See the following website for information about hazards associated with wildfires and how to deal with and/or avoid them: http://www.fema.gov/hazards/fires/wildfires.shtm

FIRE CLOSES ANOTHER WYOMING HIGHWAY

After a wet spring and a delayed start, wildfire season finally reared its ugly head in Wyoming on Monday as a pair of fires closed roads in the southern and western parts of the state. See full story at: http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2003/07/15/news/wyoming/ be352f8939c3db8a5428bed630ed1f3a.txt

WESTERN WILDFIRE UPDATES

A 2,000-acre wildfire charred sacred Apache sites and prompted the evacuation of as many as 700 people Monday on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona. An Indian Health Service hospital was among the buildings evacuated. Only a crew of eight was left to staff an emergency room. Officials said more evacuations were possible. The evacuation was ordered Monday afternoon after the blaze crossed a trigger point near two subdivisions 5 miles north of Whiteriver, said Chadeen Palmer, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the fire. The fire was burning out of control Monday evening. It had been sparked by lightning Sunday in juniper and ponderosa pines east of an area burned by last summer's huge Rodeo-Chediski fire. On the reservation, the fire charred sacred Apache sites and damaged the White Mountain Apache Tribe's timber industry, which provides 60 percent of the tribe's income. The Rodeo-Chediski fire burned 469,000 acres, destroyed 491 homes and forced 30,000 people from their homes.

Elsewhere Monday, flames raced across densely timbered slopes near Yakima, Wash., keeping evacuees from returning to about 20 homes and threatening 130 other houses. The fire near Tampico, 20 miles west of Yakima in south-central Washington, had jumped to more than 1,900 acres, firefighters said. The homes were evacuated Sunday when the flames jumped a ridge. However, no homes or buildings had been lost since the fire started late Friday.

In western Wyoming, a 23-mile section of U.S. 26-89, a heavily traveled route to Jackson Hole, was reopened Monday after smoke from a wildfire lifted. The route through the Snake River Canyon was closed during the weekend because of an 1,100-acre wildfire that erupted Saturday between Alpine and Hoback Junction. Nearby Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks were not affected but officials closed three Bridger-Teton National Forest campgrounds and suspended fishing and rafting on the Snake River between Hoback Junction and Alpine because of smoke.

In southern Arizona, a fire that destroyed more than 300 homes and cabins on Mount Lemmon in mid-June was declared 90 percent contained Monday. It had blackened 84,750 acres and crews expected to have it fully contained on Tuesday.

A day-old fire in Montana, about 10 to 15 miles east of Helena, forced the evacuation of a rural subdivision and had blackened 700 acres by Monday. Nine residents of about 17 homes in the subdivision near the small town of York were still waiting to return Monday, officials said. York had no electricity and service was not likely to be restored for a few days, said Lewis and Clark County emergency services coordinator Paul Spengler.

About 20 miles east of Eugene, Ore., two campgrounds were evacuated because of a 500-acre blaze in the Willamette National Forest, said David Widmark of the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. The fire, which started Sunday, also threatened five homes in the area but they had not yet been evacuated.

Fires also were active in Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah, the National Interagency Fire Center reported. So far this year, wildfires have blackened just over 1 million acres, compared to 3.2 million at this same time last year, the center said Monday. Check the National Interagency Fire Center at: http://www.nifc.gov

LIBERIA'S CAPITAL 'CALM', BUT THOUSANDS NEED HELP AS SUPPLIES DWINDLE - UN

While Monrovia's relative calm has allowed the United Nations and other relief agencies to step up operations in and around the beleaguered Liberian capital, the humanitarian situation remains critical as aid workers stretch dwindling stocks of food, water and medicines to help meet the needs of thousands of displaced civilians. For the full story, go to: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=7729&Cr=liberia&Cr1=

UN ENVOY MEETS WITH NEW IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL, VISITS SYRIA AND IRAN

Visiting more of Iraq's neighbours in his efforts to help create a stable, democratic and sovereign country, top United Nations envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello arrived in Damascus today for talks with Syrian President Bashir al Assad. For further information, go to: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=7727&Cr=iraq&Cr1=

DIFFERENCES IN STATE WELFARE POLICIES DRIVE POOR FAMILIES' INTERSTATE MOVES

Poor families move from state to state based on the stringency or generosity of each state's welfare policies, according to Penn State researchers. "Ever since the Welfare Reform Act was passed in 1996 and welfare policies became more state-controlled, there has been renewed interest in whether poor families migrate from 'race to the bottom' states with less generous welfare policies to states with more generous welfare policies," says Gordon De Jong, distinguished professor of sociology and demography at Penn State and a research associate in the University's Population Research Institute. De Jong and his research team found that poor families were more likely to migrate from states with more stringent welfare policies and leniency in eligibility rules. Read the full story at http://live.psu.edu/index.php?cmd=vs&story=3488

REACTIONS OF CHILDREN TO DISASTERS

Most parents recognize when their children's behavior indicates emotional distress. The two most frequent indicators are:

  • Change - The children change their behavior, reacting and doing things which are neither typical nor in their usual style. For example, they may change from active children to apathetic ones, or from being independent to being clinging and whining.
  • Regression - Behaviors which were seen in earlier phases of development, such as thumbsucking or soiling, may reappear.
  • The following identifies the most frequently occurring reactions of children in response to a disaster. For convenience, the reactions are presented by three age groups: preschool or early childhood, latency age, and preadolescence and adolescence. Much overlap of symptoms occurs among the groups.

    1. Preschool, 5 Years Old and Younger

    Generally, the world of small children is based on predictable events in a stable environment, peopled by dependable persons. These provide security for further development and growth. Any disaster which affects this familiar order may result in emotional distress which will vary in almost direct proportion to the degree of disruption in these areas.

    Most of the symptoms appearing in this young age group express in a nonverbal way the fears and anxieties the children have experienced as a result of the disruption of their secure world. These symptoms include:

  • crying in various forms, with whimpering, screaming, and explicit cries for help
  • immobility, with trembling and frightened expressions
  • running either toward the adult or in an aimless motion
  • excessive clinging
  • Regressive behavior - that is, behavior that was considered acceptable at an earlier age and that the parent had regarded as past, may appear. This includes:

    ~ thumbsucking

    ~ bed wetting

    ~ excessive clinging and whining

    ~ loss of bowel/bladder control

    ~ fear of darkness or animals

    ~ fear of being left alone or of crowds or strangers

    ~ asking to be dressed or fed

  • Other symptoms indicative of fears and anxieties include:

    ~ night terrors

    ~ nightmares

    ~ inability to sleep without a light or unless someone is present

    ~ inability to sleep through the night

    ~ marked sensitivity to loud noises

    ~ weather fears - lightning, rain, high winds

    ~ irritability

    ~ confusion

    ~ sadness, especially over loss of persons or prized possessions

    ~ speech difficulties

    ~ eating problems

  • The above symptoms may appear immediately after the disaster or after the passage of days or even weeks. Most often, they are transient and soon disappear. When the symptoms persist, however, the parents should recognize that a more serious emotional problem has developed. Professional mental health counseling may be sought, but many of the above symptoms can be diminished by the parents themselves through understanding of the basis for the behaviors and giving extra attention and caring.

    2. Latency Age - 6 Years Through 11 Years

    Fears and anxieties continue to predominate in the reactions of children in this age group. However, the fears show an increasing awareness of real danger to self and to the children's significant persons, such as family and loved ones. The reactions also begin to include the fear of damage to their environment. Imaginary fears which seem unrelated to the disaster may also appear.

    As with the preschool group, regressive behaviors appear, some of them marked in degree. Problem behaviors include:

  • bed wetting
  • night terrors
  • nightmares
  • sleep problems, such as:

    ~ unwillingness to fall asleep

    ~ interrupted sleep

    ~ need for a night light

    ~ fear of sleeping alone

    ~ fears of darkness or animals

  • weather fears
  • irrational fears, such as:

    ~ safety of buildings

    ~ fear of lights in the sky

  • Additional behavior and emotional problems may show as:

  • irritability
  • disobedience
  • depression
  • excessive clinging
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • visual or hearing problems
  • Loss of prized possessions, especially pets, seems to hold special meaning. The school environment and the increasingly important role of peers lend another dimension to the behaviors already outlined above. School problems begin to appear and may take the form of:

  • refusal to go to school
  • behavior problems in school
  • poor performance
  • fighting
  • withdrawal of interest
  • loss of ability to concentrate
  • distractibility
  • peer problems, such as:

    ~ withdrawal from playgroups

    ~ withdrawal from friends

    ~ withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities

    ~ refusal to go to the playground or to parties

  • aggressive behavior, such as:

    ~ frequent fights with siblings or friends

  • Some researchers have noted that school children may show even more disturbance than preschool children subsequent to a disaster. This may be because the small children remain closer to the family, their safe base. The older children, who are in the community and in school, are more aware of the extended world. Some of that larger world has also been disrupted.

    Duration of thesymptoms, which generally can be considered "normal" if they occur for only a short period during or immediately after the disaster, again determines, in part, the severity of the reaction. When these symptoms persist beyond several weeks, professional consultation should be sought.

    3. Preadolescence And Adolescence - 12 Years through 17 Years

    Adolescents are faced with two main tasks:

  • to integrate and adapt to the physiological revolution within themselves, and
  • to prepare themselves for the tangible adult tasks ahead of them.
  • They are preoccupied with how to connect their roles and skills with the occupational prototypes of their culture and are hampered by excessive concern over what they appear to be in the eyes of others. Conformity is the outstanding characteristic of adolescence, but it is essentially conformity with a peer group and its standards.

    The adolescents have a great need to appear competent to the world around them, especially to their family and friends. The young people are struggling to achieve independence from the family and are torn between the desire for increasing responsibility and the ambivalent wish to maintain the more dependent role of childhood. Frequently, struggles occur with the family because the peer group seems to have become more important than the parental world to preadolescent and adolescent children. In the normal course of events, this struggle between adolescents and family, and within the young people themselves, plays itself out and, depending on the basic relationship between the adolescents and the family, the trials and problems are resolved.

    A major disaster may have a number of effects on adolescents, depending on the extent to which it disrupts the functioning of the family and community. It may stimulate fears conserning the loss of their family. It may stimulate fears related to their own bodies and their intactness. It disrupts their peer relationships and perhaps their school life. It threatens their growing emancipation from the family because of the family's need to pull together. It threatens the adolescents with reactivated fears and anxieties from earlier stages of development.

    The trouble signs to watch for in preadolescents and adolescents include:

  • withdrawal and isolation
  • physical complaints, such as:

    ~ headaches

    ~ stomach pain

  • depression and sadness
  • suicidal ideation
  • antisocial behavior, such as:

    ~ stealing

    ~ aggressive behavior, acting out

  • school problems, such as:

    ~ avoidance

    ~ disruptive behavior

    ~ academic failures

  • sleep disturbances, such as:

    ~ sleeplessness

    ~ night terrors

    ~ withdrawal into heavy sleep

  • confusion
  • Most of these behaviors are transitory and disappear within a short period. When these behaviors persist, they are readily apparent to the family and to teachers, who should respond quickly. Teenagers who appear to be withdrawn and isolated, and who isolate themselves from family and friends, are experiencing emotional difficulties. They may be concealing fears that they are afraid to express. Adolescents often show their emotional distress through physical complaints, as many adults do.

    CHILDREN'S RESPONSES TO DISASTERS

    Disasters impose severe strains on everyone in the community. However, children are particularly vulnerable and require special attention and programs.

    Disasters vary in size, scope, extent of damage, loss of life, injury, and degree of disruption to the family and the community. They may be natural or manmade events, extend over a few moments or many months, and include such events as tornados, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis ("tidal waves"), volcanic eruptions, dam breaks, explosions, nuclear accidents, fires, transportation crashes, structural collapses, and others.

    From a mental health perspective, work with victims of disasters has suggested a classification of stages related to emotional reactions:

    HEROIC PHASE

    This phase appears at the time of the disaster and is characterized by people working together to save each other and their property. Excitement is intense,. and people are concerned with survival.

    HONEYMOON PHASE

    This is a relatively short (2 weeks to 2 months) postdisaster period in which the victims feel buoyed and supported by the promises of governmental and communal help and see an opportunity to reconstitute quickly. Optimism continues high, losses are counted and plans to re-establish are made.

    DISILLUSIONMENT PHASE

    Lasting anywhere from several months to a year or more, this phase contains unexpected delays and failures which emphasize the frustration from bureaucratic confusion. Victims turn to rebuilding their own lives and solving their own individual problems.

    RECONSTRUCTION PHASE

    This phase may last for several years. It is characterized by a coordinated individual and community effort to rebuild and re-establish normal functioning.

    CONCLUSION

    The above stages are helpful in understanding the pressures affecting children. As adults go through these stages, their abilities to handle the disruptions and frustrations have both direct and indirect effects upon the children. These effects contribute to the emotional reactions of the children, who already may be emotional about the disruption and/or loss of secure environment, stable relationships, and predictable interactions. Their reactions, in turn, exert a reciprocal influence on their parents. It becomes clear that symptoms can only be understood in the context of the entire family's reactions and the impact of the disaster on the family's life.

    Reactions of children to disasters have both short-term and long-term effects. These are not necessarily sequential. They may be short or long term in terms of immediate or delayed appearance after the disaster, or both.

    The children and their families are primarily normal people. However, because of the severe stress, their functioning may be temporarily disrupted. Relief from stress and passage of time re-establish equilibrium and functioning for most of them, even without outside help. Informed intervention can speed recovery and in many instances can help prevent serious problems later.

    The basic unit of treatment, when possible, should be the entire family, not just the individual child. The family is the first-line resource for helping the children and should be considered before involving other treatment resources.

    Because most of the clients are normal, mental illness labels should be avoided. Descriptive terms, not professional jargon, should be used to identify or classify individuals.

    Selection of the label or name for the crisis services is left to the individual program. The name should not cause any potential client to hesitate to use the service for fear of being branded with the stigma of mental illness. The concept of the agency providing "someone to talk to" is a neutral way of identifying the service.

    The traditional model approach should be avoided. Workers in disasters should seek out users of their services rather than wait to be sought out. Outreach teams can use disaster assistance centers, schools, Red Cross evacuation centers, and other community centers to provide information on the availability of crisis counseling services for children and families. These teams can also go to homes, mobile centers, or other relocation areas. The media are helpful in informing the public of available services. A press release or press interview and radio and TV appearances can inform the public of the location and phone number of crisis services and other pertinent information. Newspapers, TV and radio can also be useful in communicating advice to parents on the best way to help their children.

    *********************************************************

    To search for books on disasters and disaster mental
    health topics, leaders, leadership, orgainizations,
    crisis intervention, leaders and crises, and related
    topics and purchase them online, go to the following url:

    http://www.angelfire.com/biz/odochartaigh/searchbooks.html

    RECOMMENDED READING

    Helping Children Cope With Disasters and Terrorism

    by Annette M. LA Greca (Editor), Wendy K. Silverman (Editor), Eric M. Vernberg (Editor), Michael C. Roberts (Editor)


     

    Book Description

    From Book News, Inc.

    An outgrowth of the work of the American Psychological Association's Working Group on Children and Disasters. Chapters identify research issues related to children's trauma responses to the experience of disasters. After four introductory chapters explore basic concepts and issues, 12 chapters review the literature on trauma responses to specific kinds of natural disasters, human made and technological disasters, and acts of violence (from school shootings to war). After each chapter looks at trauma responses, intervention strategies that have been developed are explored and assessed.Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

    Book Info

    Comprehensive and current text covering the immediate and lasting effects of trauma on children and adolescents. Reviews research and intervention literature on a broad range of natural and man-made disasters. Documents children's reactions and identifies factors predicting or buffer against severe traumatic responses.

    Additional Readings at: Children and Disasters in the search engine. Also try looking here for Disaster and Trauma.

    **********************************************************************

    **********************************************************************
    Contact your local Mental Health Center or
    check the yellow pages for counselors, psychologists,
    therapists, and other Mental health Professionals in
    your area for further information.
    **********************************************************************

    George W. Doherty
    Rocky Mountain Region
    Disaster Mental Health Institute
    Box 786
    Laramie, WY 82073-0786

    MENTAL HEALTH MOMENT Online: http://www.angelfire.com/biz3/news



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