Integration of Mental and Behavioral Health in Federal Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery: Assessment and Recommendations: A Report of the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of the National Biodefense Science Board   [open pdf - 143KB]

"Careful attention to mental and behavioral health concerns should be an integral part of preparedness, response, and recovery for disasters and emergencies that have consequences for the public's health. Dealing effectively with these issues can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the immediate response to a disaster, reduce the long-term health burden and associated costs, and improve public confidence in the Federal Government's ability to deal with future emergencies. Yet in many current policies, procedures, and planning efforts, at all governmental levels, disaster mental health issues do not receive the attention and priority they deserve, are not effectively integrated within a comprehensive response, and are sometimes not represented at all. In November 2008, the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) issued recommendations developed by the Disaster Mental Health (DMH) Subcommittee to increase the priority and effectiveness of the mental and behavioral health elements of the Nation's preparedness, response, and recovery efforts for public health disasters and emergencies. Responding to the recommendations, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the NBSB to convene the DMH Subcommittee to assess the Department's progress in integrating mental and behavioral health issues into disaster and emergency preparedness, response, and recovery activities. This report describes the result of that assessment. The DMH Subcommittee concludes that the most pressing and significant problem that hinders integration of disaster mental and behavioral health is the lack of appropriate policy at the highest Federal level. Compounding that problem is the lack of any clear statement as to where the authority to devise, formulate, and implement such policy should reside."

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United States. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response: http://www.phe.gov/
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