, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 132-141
Date: 20 Apr 2010

Integrating Mental Health Services into Humanitarian Relief Responses to Social Emergencies, Disasters, and Conflicts: A Case Study

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Abstract

Utilizing lessons learned from development and implementation of “Project Liberty” in New York City, created in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, this paper explores the importance of integrating structured mental health services with community-based social service programs offered in large-scale humanitarian relief responses. Relevant international research studies illustrating similar integrated programs are also reviewed. The primary approach is community-based and resilience-enhancement focused, offering structure, stability, support, and community cohesion, with an added integrated screening component to identify persons with severe treatable mental health conditions. Because there is thus far little evidence that resilience-enhancing programs are effective for severe mental health conditions, a secondary program initiated in parallel would be staffed with more specialized providers offering services for those referred from the primary program. The key implication supports the establishment of more effective links between programs and professionals from different disciplines, who then can more effectively implement integrated program responses to large-scale disasters.