Association to evaluate mental health of Tsunami survivors

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – The American Psychological Association announced last weak that psychologist Gerald (Jerry) Jacobs, Ph.D. will work with the APA in its effort to assess the mental health needs of the Tsunami survivors.

Jacobs is the Director of the Disaster Mental Health Institute and a professor in the doctoral Clinical Psychology Training Program at the University of South Dakota. He is one of just six Disaster Mental Health Managers in the Red Cross national disaster team. His past work includes responding to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and being an instructor in disaster mental health for the Red Cross.

“Dr. Jacobs’ expertise in international disaster relief efforts and his experience in the Southeast Asia region make him the perfect person for this role and we look forward to working with him,” said APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D.

Jacobs will be responsible for making recommendations on how to respond to the psychological support needs in Southeast Asia. The APA will then decide which projects to undertake and how to proceed.

“I am honored to be chosen for this role with APA and pleased that APA is interested in taking a planful and carefully thought out response to this catastrophic event,” Jacobs said. “Historically, mental health professionals have been somewhat haphazard in their response to catastrophic events. I believe that APA’s effort to develop a planful and coordinated response represents a highly responsible and significant response to this event.”

Jacobs had already planned to conduct training in Bangkok, Thailand this May before the Tsunami struck. Depending on the decisions made by the APA, he may travel to the region sooner.

“It’s a challenge to address the mental health needs of such a large population. The affected area involves 12 countries, 20 different languages and a wide range of cultures, but Dr. Jacobs’ leadership and expertise will help us meet those challenges,” APA President Ronald F. Levant, Ed.D. said.

Any mental health professionals or graduate students interested in providing psychological support during disasters are encouraged to look into the Summer Intensive Program at the University of South Dakota (http://www.usd.edu/dmhi/sip.cfm).

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