Adaptation of post-disaster mental health training for black communities

Period of Performance: 06/01/2008 - 05/31/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Hermes, LLC
Wilmington, NC 28409
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Adaptation and adoption of evidence based mental health strategies has been challenging for those working with subpopulations disproportionately affected by the aftermath of natural disasters and may contribute to the growing racial disparities seen in access to mental health services, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health conditions. Outside assistance teams have faced overwhelming demands for tools that take into account the cultural and ethnic context of mental health conditions and facilitate expedient and cost effective measure to mitigate the mental health effects of disasters. Our proposed post disaster mental health intervention training tool will assist in addressing these challenges and holds promise for delivering effective interventions to those in need of support because it will be developed through an iterative collaborative approach with health providers and black community leaders working in areas in the Southeastern and Gulf states that have experienced the greatest impact of recent hurricanes. We first will conduct thorough needs assessment in coastal and eastern North Carolina and continue to incorporate materials that respond to audience learning needs through implementation testing of materials developed by Dr. Stan Kutcher. This model is based on World Health Organization and NIMH recommended post disaster mental health practices. The novel training program will also include capacity and social capital building techniques and expansion through a train the trainer component. The results of this formative research will be woven into a novel disaster intervention training program that can be successively tailored to other minority groups in high risk areas. The prototype training package will consists of 1) a core knowledge/care competencies manual; 2) clinical provider and community leader trainee toolkits (with testable cooperative learning exercises for 1 completed core competency, a list of resources for practical mental health referral and treatment approaches, and training evaluation pre and post tests, a sample CD rom to test the acceptance of future distance learning using web based format for training components); and 3) a trainer facilitation manual with slide sets and testable instructions for implementing a train the trainer program. We will elaborate a plan for conducting a multi site field evaluation trial. In Phase II we will further develop the training components, including distance learning CD rom and web based instruction based on the Phase I proof of concept evidence. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The disaster mental health training tool that we propose to develop will promote an appropriate and cost effective response to the need to prepare health providers and black community leaders for addressing the adverse mental health consequences to disasters. Through the iterative adaptation of teaching materials to the cultural context of communities of color, we will have a useful tool to address cultural barriers that challenge outsiders in providing mental health services. Expansion to other formats for distance learning of different training components and tailoring for other vulnerable communities will allow local first responders to gain the sustainable skills.