Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mobile App Helps Post-Disaster Mental Health Responders

The next time disaster strikes, mental health and other response workers may find help in delivering psychological first aid (PFA) as near as their smartphones. “PFA is an evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism: to reduce initial distress and to foster short and long-term adaptive functioning,” says the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD, a codeveloper of the app along with the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Responders should learn PFA before a disaster occurs, say the developers. “This app is a supplement to other resources [that] trained individuals utilize before, during, and after a disaster response.” Armed with that knowledge, users can then read summaries of PFA actions; match interventions to specific stress reactions of survivors; evaluate survivors’ needs and track them to simplify data collection and referrals; and use self-assessments to judge their own readiness to conduct PFA. The PFA mobile app is available for Apple iPhone users; an Android version will appear in 2013.

To learn more about key factors in preparing for the mental health aftermath of disasters, see Psychiatric News here.

(Image: Frontpage/