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Editor's e-Note
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, this month’s E-News Exclusive examines the stress associated with natural disasters and the important role played by social workers.

The physical toll of natural disasters is much more easily defined than their impact on mental health. Nevertheless, hurricanes and other such events can spawn devastating and long-lasting trauma on its victims.

We welcome your comments at Visit our website at, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter.

— Lee DeOrio, editorial director
e-News Exclusive
How Social Workers Can Help Disaster Mental Health Preparedness

By Tonya Hansel, PhD, LMSW

With hurricane season approaching, we are seeing reminders and recommendations in the media about how individuals and organizations can prepare. In recent years, hurricane season has been starting earlier and this year is expected to be highly active (Belles & Erdman, 2021; Erdman, 2021).

As with most years, the recommendations are generally oriented around physical safety and financial readiness. Certainly both during and immediately following a disaster, physical health and safety are of the utmost urgency. But given the extraordinarily challenging year we have just been through and that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, it would be advantageous to consider a dimension that often gets neglected and underfunded when it comes to disaster preparedness: mental health.

The Challenge of Integrating Disaster Mental Health Services
The challenge is that disaster planning is an area in which mental and behavioral health traditionally receive less attention. Part of the reason is that mental health services are already an underserved and underutilized resource in day-to-day life. This only gets exacerbated in a disaster in which infrastructure becomes damaged and available resources are appropriated and used, understandably, for the most immediate basic needs, including food, water, shelter, and medical attention.

However, once some of the initial shock has subsided, a range of mental health concerns surface as a direct result of the disaster, all documented by a substantial body of research over the past several decades: PTSD, grief, depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicide ideation (Makwana, 2019).

Full story »
Industry Insight
National Council Rebrands as National Council for Mental Wellbeing

In response to changes in the fields of mental health and substance use treatment and the need to define more accurately the work of nearly 3,500 member organizations, the National Council for Behavioral Health announces it has changed its name to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

The change takes effect immediately.

“By changing our name, we are changing the conversation,” says National Council for Mental Wellbeing President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia. “Not only is the National Council for Mental Wellbeing inclusive of mental health and substance use, our new name boldly states our goal: to make mental wellbeing a reality for everyone.

“This change also presents an opportunity to align our name with our goal of promoting mental health, recovery from substance use challenges, and equitable access to high-quality care,” Ingoglia says.

Read more »
Products & Services
Personal Emergency Response System Technology Fights Child Abuse

Connect America, a provider of connected health solutions, and Watchful Shepherd USA, a national nonprofit family abuse prevention program, announce that tools and resources are available to help protect children living in at-risk environments.

Connect America is helping Watchful Shepherd fulfill its mission by providing the organization with special alert systems comprising electronic monitors and wristbands that can be distributed to at-risk families and child victims. Should a crisis arise, users can quickly and easily send for help and automatically begin recording audio with the touch of a button. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This system was adapted from Connect America’s Personal Emergency Response System developed for older adults.

“We recognized that the technology we designed for elderly people in emergencies easily could be adapted for use by children facing emergencies of their own,” says Janet Dillione, CEO of Connect America.

Read more »
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