7th Rocky Mountain Disaster Mental Health Conference: Return To Equilibrium (RMRDMHI CONF2008)

Venue: Hampton Inn

Location: Laramie, Wyoming, United States

Event Date/Time: Nov 06, 2008 End Date/Time: Nov 08, 2008
Registration Date: Nov 06, 2008
Early Registration Date: Oct 17, 2008
Abstract Submission Date: Sep 15, 2008
Paper Submission Date: Oct 31, 2008
Report as Spam


Returning Military: Families, Readjustment and Community Support

· Pandemic Events, Disasters and Terrorism: Dealing With Fears

· Strategic Planning, Response and Follow-up

· CISM Team Development

· Social and Economic Effects of Energy Development in Western States

· Global Warming

· Updates on Recent Disasters: National, Regional, International

The following are some areas and topics that we hope presenters will address within the context of the above themes. This is not an all-inclusive listing, but one to stimulate ideas, thoughts, presentations and research. The link to the Submission form is below as is the link for Exhibitors.

· National traumas in recent years (e.g., 9/11/2001; other terrorist acts and threats; military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq; natural disasters such as Katrina and Rita; etc.) have heightened interest in the mental health needs of emergency responders, military personnel, law enforcement professionals, and disaster relief workers. Attending to the mental health needs of persons responding to emergencies, providing disaster relief, defending national interests, participating in peacekeeping missions, and maintaining a civil society is a critical part of strengthening and maintaining our national infrastructure.

· Researchers are currently studying a variety of approaches to help improve our capacity to deal with the results of traumatic exposure, including early interventions to reduce the likelihood of chronic posttraumatic stress. Others are trying to identify biomarkers of vulnerability and disorder to help inform preemptive intervention approaches to avoid or prevent long-term posttraumatic stress disorder and related disorders. This has led some researchers to study preventive strategies that are based on concepts of protective factors, including psychological hardiness and resilience. The focus is on risk and resilience factors (biological, cognitive-emotional, behavioral, social) that are implicated in the development and maintenance of post-trauma adjustment disorders in order to develop and test preventive interventions.

· Adjustment disorders can cause a variety of problems for afflicted individuals, including psychological pain and suffering, increased health care utilization, decreased family, social and occupational functioning, and premature mortality. Such problems can extend to spouses and children in the form of child and family adjustment disorders. Because of their occupational roles in society, certain groups (e.g., first responders, military) are at heightened risk for trauma exposure and associated health and functional sequelae. Just as with the general population of trauma survivors, risk and adverse adjustment are not equally distributed among emergency responders and other high-risk occupational groups.

· Conditions such as acute anxiety, depression, and PTSD emerge as a result of interacting individual and environmental circumstances. The nature, intensity and duration of trauma exposure are clearly related to risk for adjustment disorders as are a host of other factors such as low Socio-Economic Status, lack of education, previous trauma, adverse childhood factors, lack of social support, life stress, psychiatric history, family psychiatric history, peritraumatic psychiatric history and peritraumatic emotion. There are also sex and age specific risk factors involved in susceptibility.

· Potential targets for selective prevention strategies, including environmental interventions to limit or manage exposures, exposure-based interventions to increase familiarity with high-probability events and cultivate accurate expectations about their impact, educational interventions to increase the controllability of acute stress reactions, shape coping behaviors, and/or foster help-seeking, social interventions to build team/unit cohesion and bolster social support networks, and interventions to prepare family members for stressors introduced by their relative’s deployment. A variety of intervention techniques or tactics for increasing high-risk employees’ resilience during short-term, intermediate, and long-term adjustment periods are needed.

· Our military personnel (Regular, Reserve and National Guard) have been deployed for tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq that have varied in length and number of times deployed. Our Reservists and National Guard personnel in particular have left jobs, family and college for extended periods to serve our country. In some cases, they have been deployed two or even three times. While deployed, they have been in harm’s way constantly 24/7. Some have been severely wounded physically while many others have been wounded emotionally and behaviorally. Their families (spouses and children) are all affected by their deployments. Returning military members receive assistance from the military in their re-entry into the community upon return. Family members are supported through military and Guard Family Services groups while the Service member is deployed and continues upon their return. Veterans organizations have members who also provide various types of support. In the news we hear of reports of increasing numbers of Service members returning with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders and related symptoms of post-traumatic stress such as anxiety, depression and somatic problems. Problems associated with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are also present. Another particularly disturbing statistic is the number of suicides occurring among military personnel. Each of these directly affect family relations among spouses and children of varying ages. They also affect many friends, relatives and fellow employees in our communities. Most affected, of course, is the individual returning military member. Adjusting to their changed lives and re-adjusting to families and the community are not always smooth. How can our communities better understand these adjustments, support our returning veterans and become constructively and positively involved in re-integrating our returning military back into our communities? What resources are available? What is the role of our mental health professionals. Who do they network with and interact with? Do they have a role with other healthcare providers, public health, hospitals, veterans organizations, veterans administration, military support groups and others? How can all these groups, other community organizations, first responders, and others strategically plan how to address and respond to these needs in a combined effort? What issues need to be addressed? At least one full day of the conference will be devoted to our returning military.

· The probabilities that mental health professionals and CISM Teams will become involved in responding to Pandemic events (e.g., Avian Flu), large scale or local disasters, or following terrorist events is very likely. It is important that they become involved in planning, responding and exercises with other responders and to become known and let others know what they can do. What are the mental health and the CISM Team roles in response to these? How do CISM Teams plan for such events? Whom do they network with and interact with? What is their role with other providers? How do they become involved?

· What is the role of mental health professionals and CISM in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command (IC)?

· Crisis intervention is commonly thought of as acute psychological first aid applied within close temporal proximity to the precipitating event. While all disaster workers should have familiarity with the common patterns of reaction to unusual emotional stress and strain, relatively few are versed in the principles of care for the psychological or emotional casualty. What is Psychological First Aid? How, where and when should it be used? Who can provide it? How does it apply in different situations, with different groups or organizations? Is it applicable to military personnel, first responders, etc.? How effective is it?

· How do victims, first responders, and the public in general deal with the fears generated by natural and man-made disasters, terrorism threats and acts, and war-related events? What can mental health professionals do to deal with these? Are there resources available to mitigate these?

· What is strategic planning and how do we use it to adequately address problems and issues identified as possible risks in the future? How do we identify threats and target groups? How are resources developed and allocated? How are CISM Team protocols and disaster responder approaches developed? What should plans include in terms of response and what is the importance of follow-up? What criteria are needed for proper referrals for more intensive assistance? How are these referral resources developed and what training should they have? How do we develop efficient ways to identify factors that buffer against acute and long-term stress reactions; the potential costs and benefits of various intervention strategies; and gauge whether current training and preparation activities have a beneficial impact on post-trauma adjustment? How can we clarify high probability targets for intervention? What interventions preempt disorder mechanisms and promote functioning in various contexts and populations? How effective are prevention approaches for members of high risk occupations? How can we measure risk/resilience, response benchmarks, clinical and functional endpoints that are relevant to employers and individuals?

· When states, cities and towns are affected by increased development and growth in industries an population, how are the effects dealt with in these communities and states? When they boom due to these events, how are social and physical and other infrastructures affected? How do responders such as law enforcement, firefighters, nurses and other healthcare professionals, hospitals, schools, social service and mental health agencies approach and deal with changing situations and populations? How do these groups strategically plan for the future? What do long-time residents do to adjust and how do newcomers fit in? What effects do various forms of energy development (e.g., wind, solar, oil, nuclear, gas, coal, etc.) have on communities, agriculture, vacation sites, national parks, forests and others and how do we adjust?

· What cultural factors need to be considered when responding to critical incidents, disasters, local emergencies and other events? If responding to events in a cultural not one’s own, what do CISM Teams and mental health professionals need to be aware of and prepare for? How do we do strategic planning for such events whether locally, nationally or internationally?

· Some topic areas For Table Top Discussions:

• Implications of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) on returning Soldiers, their families,

friends, employers, co-workers and others

• crises in schools, communities and universities

• Cultural Concerns in responding to disasters and other critical incidents

• Religious and Spiritual Considerations and Response modes for disasters and critical incidents

• Families and Children

• Mental Health and Incident Command

• Critical incidents

• Effects of energy development in the American west

• Suicide as a problem in rural communities, schools and among first responders


Hampton Inn
Grand Avenue
United States