answers and 2 responses

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Readings:

Reflection # 1 — Put some effort into this, as it is actually one of 2 reflections for which you will be graded (7.5 pts each). This post will require more intensive consideration, effort, and even research. Please include references at the end. Do not post any answers as an attached document, but include the text directly in the thread. (Most other DBs are worth 5 points each).

What do you think it takes to be a qualitatively effective Disaster Mental Health responder?

1. What kinds of temperaments, character traits, and skills seem necessary?

2. What kinds of temperaments, character traits, and even skill sets might present barriers to being effective?

3. What if you were in that role? What traits or skills do you think you possess that would be helpful in that role? If not, what skills do you see yourself better suited for? Do you feel that there would be certain aspects of that role that might be especially challenging for you personally?

response for each post

post#1

Many different character traits contribute to a disaster mental health responder being qualitatively effective. One way is being a good listener. When a person is affected by a disaster and is willing to talk about it, a provider that is a good listener can contribute to the victim’s recovery. The increased sense of empathy will be helpful in building an “interpersonal relationship between the speaker and listener” (Jacobs, et al, 2016). And when this happens, it can have the added return benefit to help the responder “feel more self-efficacious” (Jacobs, et al, 2016). The ability to listen well comes naturally to some but can be learned over time and experience by others interested in helping with mental health issues, even those without advanced degrees (like community members or first responders). Because the American Red Cross feels this is an important aspect of disaster management, they offer education to their volunteers on Psychological First Aid. It is a free class that can be taken in the classroom setting or online. One of the 12 psychological first aid actions listed by the Red Cross is simply: listen. They expand on listening by encouraging volunteers to “be attentive, listen carefully, be available” (Engfehr, 2014).

A barrier to being effective may be that the responder is not interested in this aspect of disaster management and is not willing to further educate themselves. Not everyone has to have an advanced degree in psychology to be helpful to disaster mental health. Having the interest in helping combined with further education through means such as the Red Cross will help community members as well as responders to be more effective in the overall recovery process.

I have found myself in an unofficial role of disaster mental health responder many times throughout my career in EMS. I have listened to victims, family members of victims, coworkers that were victims, and coworkers that were medics that responded to traumatic events. I can say that over the years I have learned to be a better listener. Many times, the person just needs to talk about it, they do not always need advice or words from the listener. Sometimes I feel the biggest challenge is the time it takes out of my hectic schedule. But, I do feel like it is worth it to the overall recovery process and can be an invaluable gift to the person struggling.

References

Engfehr, W. (2014). Psychological First Aid [Ebook] (pp. 6, 7). American Red Cross Preparedness Academy. Retrieved from http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProduct…

Jacobs, G. A., Gray, B. L., Erickson, S. E., Gonzalez, E. D., & Quevillon, R. P. (2016). Disaster mental health and community-based psychological first aid: Concepts and Education/Training: Training in CBPFA and DMH. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 72(12), 1307-1317. doi:10.1002/jclp.22316

post#2

1. What kinds of temperaments, character traits, and skills seem necessary?

A Disaster Mental Health care responder’s (DMH) tasks may be more dynamic in comparison to a traditional responder for the reason that the traditional responder may be in need of their services. This creates a more dynamic and broad scope of work, both in direct volume in the field and on a level of complexity for the individual DMH that will need to understand additional scenarios of injury in which they have to respond to. For instance, mental injury can occur in a emergency responder for the reasons of “Exposures to traumatic events, high levels of work demand, work with disrupted communities and evacuee populations, and separation from home and loved ones has been the subject of considerable investigation.” (Benedek, D. M., Fullerton, C., & Ursano, R. J. 2007 pg. 3)

As we can see there will be circumstances where the DMH will be in even higher demand than a traditional responder as they need to treat the responder in the field so that they can effectively do their job. In a way, the DMH can become the supporting line of defense to disaster that supports the front line of field responders when the situation becomes too traumatic for them. Additionally, patience is going to be an extremely important aspect of being an effective DMH because working with individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) is a challenging task which will define a conventional outlook on injury.

It is not a wound to wrap up. The damages done by physical hazards have more defined and effective approaches to cure. Mental Injuries is a less understood and explored place. Some people go their whole lives dealing with mental injury even with intensive treatment. A kindness and compassion and most importantly, an ability to be sympathetic to a person’s struggle without letting it consume the work. Mental health work is a risky area of work because truma can be contagious to the extent that shared pain occurs (North, C. S., & Pfefferbaum, B. 2013).

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