Site hosted by Build your free website today!


Learning From The Past and Planning For The Future

MENTAL HEALTH MOMENT September 5, 2003

"Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think." - Jawaharlal Nehru

Short Subjects

Rocky Mountain Region
Disaster Mental Health Institute

Mental Health Moment Online

CISM/CISD Annotated Links

Gulf War Syndrome




NIMH Meeting Announcements

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


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
Download Flier

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:
Conference Website: 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

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

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

1st International Conference on
Psychophysiology of Panic Attacks
September 5 - 8 2003
Location: London, UNITED KINGDOM

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


Since September 11, 2001, federal, state, and local government agencies' emergency response planning has focused on possible terrorist attacks using chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) weapons. Biosecurity & Bioterrorism 1(2) 2003 For the complete article, go to:

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 has collected much of the magazine's coverage of the terrorist attacks and their aftermath and added a selection of relevant articles from The New Yorker's archive. Go here for complete articles:


Under Secretary of Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness and Response Michael D. Brown talked with students at Big Sky High school in Missoula, Montana on September 3, 2003, about the role of government. Under Secretary Brown was in Montana touring areas that have been impacted by the recent wildfires. Check this Site:


A new United Nations resolution on Iraq should emerge within days and its starting point would be the need to achieve the political, security and economic conditions necessary to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people as soon as possible, the Security Council president for September said today. For the Full Story, go to:


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Kingdom government have embarked on a resettlement programme that will enable some West Africans in need of special protection to reside in the European country. For the Full Story, go to:


Once again appealing to Israel and the Palestinians to break the cycle of violence and counter-violence, United Nations secretary-General Kofi Annan called on non-government organizations (NGOs) and grassroots groups to provide their "indispensable" support for reaching peace in the Middle East. For the Full Story, go to:


Continuing efforts within the United Nations to create a strengthened framework for international dialogue and mutual understanding, the fifth in Secretary-General Kofi Annan's lecture series will be held next week with a focus on Islam. Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a respected Muslim scholar at George Washington University, is scheduled to give the lecture on 15 September at UN Headquarters in New York. He will speak on the topic "Islam and the West." Meanwhile, the first of a series of three lectures to mark the centenary of the birth of UN diplomat and Nobel Laureate Ralph Bunche will be held tomorrow, also at the UN Headquarters. The lecture, entitled "Ralph Bunche and the Question of Palestine" will feature Dennis Ross, the President of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Edward Mortimer, Director of the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General.


The first clinical study of a neonatal chest wall stabilizer developed at Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center recently began at three hospitals in South Africa. Charles Palmer, device inventor and professor of pediatrics, Penn State College of Medicine, trained medical staff at the hosptials to use the chest wall stabilizer, a device that allows babies with respiratory distress to breathe easier. The device "could be particularly useful in developing countries where more expensive medical options are unavailable or in short supply," Palmer said. The chest wall stabilizer was designed for premature babies who have underdeveloped, unstable chest walls that retract or buckle inward with each breath, making it difficult for them to get adequate oxygen. Read the full story at


Few things are more precious than sight. Unfortunately, millions of people each year face a silent threat to their sight that could be managed with early detection and treatment. That threat, glaucoma, is made up of a group of disorders that can cause loss of vision. In glaucoma, pressure inside the eye is usually increased. As this happens, the delicate optic nerve is damaged, resulting in loss of vision. The condition accounts for approximately 10 percent of new cases of blindness in the United States, and is the most common cause of blindness in African-Americans. The most prevalent form of glaucoma affects nearly 2.25 million Americans. However, glaucoma can be diagnosed and monitored through simple, painless examinations. Read the full story at


A trauma is any event which harms or threatens a person or someone close to them and involves high emotional arousal. Such events are never accurately remembered or fully understood. Because the impact on teenagers is related to their stage of development, some important aspects of adolescence should be considered.

Teenagers involved in crisis and traumatic events may not always show their distress outwardly. Adults may misunderstand their needs or find them unwilling to accept help.

Teenage Development

Teenagers often lose the self assurance they had when younger. However, they gain other types of confidence and abilities. Parents, and the teens themselves, are confused by their inconsistent behavior.

Teenagers can think rationally. But they have unstable emotions and may not apply logical thinking to real situations. Providing them with support and independence can help them learn this. Teens want to be both close to others as well as time to be alone while they find new ways of relating to people. In order to communicate with teenagers, it is important to understand these contradictions. Moodiness, depression and insecurity commonly alternate with excitement, happiness and adventurousness.


While children are dependent on parents and live within the family, teens are usually proud that they could survive on their own. School, peers, other adults and social or sporting groups are a large part of their support network. They often don't feel the family is the life support system it was in childhood. Parents may feel sidelined. However, their importance is not less than before - just different.

Teenagers usually don't understand these changes, but they do feel the frustration of them. They need their family to be a trusted home base for their adjustment to painful events. However, how much they rely on their family to come to grips with what has happened may vary greatly from one to another.

The Peer Group

Friends and acquaintances are an essential part of a teenager's daily life. Groups might appear to be a distraction. However, they do give security in coping with emotional problems. They can gain a sense of normality by comparing themselves with peers. Teenagers feel abnormal when they are different from their peers, and this threatens their sense of self.

The peer group may often seem to be their life support system. They need to be with peers just like they previously needed to be with their parents. Though some teens may have difficulty getting the right balance between peers and family, this is a normal situation. Rock music, fashion, sports, skateboarding, etc. (even when done alone) give the support of shared experiences with their peer culture.

Parents who oppose peer influences risk causing intense conflicts. They often lose the battle because the teen feels that the parent's opposition is a threat to their survival. Parents can help best when they share their teen with peer groups. Instead of competing with peer influence, adults need to develop good communication and give teens time to form their own judgments of peers and evaluate the group.

The Teen's Experience

Teens are often more involved in doing things than understanding emotions. They may lack the words to express important feelings. They handle painful events by distracting themselves. They may be so immersed in their own feelings and point of view that they don't recognize adults' reactions. They may feel threatened when adults try to be logical about painful experiences and not fully understand what is said until later. However, their behavior often shows they have taken notice even when they don't acknowledge it. It's important to give them time to work things out rather than demanding immediate feedback.

Anxiety by parents can cause teens to become confused and guilty or cause them to reject their parents' emotions in order to protect themselves.

Common Responses

The following responses are all signs of stress when coming to terms with crisis or trauma. They are normal responses and generally pass with time.

* Excessive concern for others, guilt, anxiety, and insecurity.

* Sleeplessness or wanting to sleep all the time.

* Withdrawal from family, spending increased time alone listening to music or watching TV.

* Wanting to be around the family more than before or more dependent on family or other people.

* Sudden need for independence expressing feelings like "don't treat me like a child" and "you're only my mother".

* Uncooperative, irritable and only concerned with what is important to them.

* Bored, listless and dissatisfied.

* Unable to cope with responsibilities or duties, reverting to immature or irresponsible behavior.

* Preoccupation with the trauma, wanting to talk about it all the time - or angrily refusing to talk about it.

* More detached from life, the future or interests, and an unwillingness to set goals.

* Want to do everything now; they are impatient or intolerant.

* Pessimism and cynicism, loss of interest in the future.

* Changed values and philosophy of life.

* Poor concentration, memory, organization, planning skills and reduced school performance.

* Restlessness, always needing to be doing something or be with peers.

* Exaggerated emotional reactions to small problems.

* Angry, controlling, assertive and demanding.

* Exaggeration or return of previous problems.

How To Provide Help

Teens need support and understanding from adults to deal with their responses. Following are some suggested strategies to help them achieve this:

* Give them accurate information about the event and its consequences. Correct any misunderstandings and rumors. However, avoid burdening them with details not needed for overall understanding.

* Encourage them to express emotions and to put thoughts into words. If not with you, make sure they talk to someone. Expressing strong emotions is a natural way to come to terms with trauma. As the emotions begin to subside, the recovery starts. Suppressed emotions can cause long-term problems.

* Keep communicating. If they won't talk about emotions, ask the teens what they are thinking. Let them know about your reactions. Explain about stress and recovery. Even if they don't admit it, they do take in what is said.

* Keep telling them you love and care about them no matter what they say or do.

* If they object to what you are doing, don't argue. Ask them how else you can help.

* Reassure them about the future, especially that their current distress will pass in time.

* Make plans to reduce pressure at school or in other activities if they are having trouble coping.

* Support them in continuing their social and recreational activities, to play, explore, laugh, etc., even though the adults themselves may not want to.

* Maintain routine and familiar activities, ensure life is secure and predictable; minimize change.

* Keep them informed about how their recovery is progressing and what help is available.

* Do not make this the time to have disputes about normal problems such as work, chores, or defiance. Leave this for later or it will be confused with the crisis reactions. The problems fade as teens recover. If not, the problems will be more successfully worked out later.

Teens' striving for independence, seeking help from peers and adults other than their parents, and expressing critical attitudes are all indications of parents' success in giving teens the strength and confidence to become adults. This behavior needs to be valued and worked with rather than against.

Sometimes teens have a narrower point of view and can accept the trauma in a matter-of-fact way. They may not need their parents as much as their parents need them. When this happens, parents must continue to be available, but in a different, more detached way and avoid burdening teens with their own distress as much as possible.

Trauma also provides teens with opportunities for growth and discovery about themselves. With help, teens can eventually mature as a result of experience. They often show strength and resilience that has not been evident previously.

When To Get Some Help

In some situations it's important to get advice from those trained to understand crises, trauma and teens. This is important to do when:

* Parents are particularly worried or do not understand their teen's behavior.

* The teen doesn't spend any time at home.

* They will not communicate about themselves or what they are doing.

* They show continuing distress or depression.

* They begin to abuse substances or increase their use.

* There is no progress in recovery from the responses.

* They engage in reckless, irresponsible or self destructive behavior.

Early help is most effective. It can prevent complications before they become extablished. If the teen does not want to come to an appointment, parents can attend and will benefit from the chance to get advice and strategies.

The best gifts you can offer teens are patience and understanding. Do not hesitate to seek advice if you do not understand any part of their behavior or if you have questions. With the right assistance, recovery from trauma may not be as painful for either teens or their parents.

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:


Shocking Violence II: Violent Disaster, War, and Terrorism Affecting Your Youth

by Rosemarie Scolaro Moser (Editor), Corinne E. Frantz (Editor)


Book Description

Shocking Violence II: Violent Disaster, War, and Terrorism Affecting Our Youth provides current academic and practical knowledge from the viewpoints of a variety of expert academicians and professionals to address the most pressing and relevant issues of our recent times. The contributors offer an understanding of the psycho-socio-political factors that impact youth when exposed to violent disaster, war, and terrorism and that explain the phenomena of terrorism and violence. As an invaluable guide, it samples information from the areas of psychology, education, parenting, law enforcement, forensics, and religion incorporating both theory, data, and concrete recommendations, and providing advice to helping professionals, educators, parents, and all those who interface with youth. Key intervention strategies are presented that can be implemented in the field. Readers will find its multidisciplinary focus helpful in gaining a broad perspective on this very complex topic.

Additional Readings at: 911: Teens Respond to Terrorism in the search engine. Also try looking here for September 11, 2001: A Simple Account for Children.


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


||| Volume 1 ||| Volume 2 ||| Volume 3 ||| Volume 4 ||| Volume 5 ||| Volume 6 ||| Volume 7 |||
||| Volume 8 ||| Additional Links |||
Mental Health Moment Online