FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2008
Contact: Gretchen Michael, ASPR
New Subcommittee of HHS’ National Biodefense Science Board to Look at Mental Health Consequences of Disasters
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that it is convening a group of national experts to develop recommendations on protecting, preserving and restoring individual and community mental health in catastrophic events.
Studies show that mental health and substance use concerns increase during and after disasters and other public health and medical emergencies. These conditions include stress, insomnia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The long-term goal is to enhance capability at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels for addressing the psychological consequences of disasters,” said Dr. Daniel Dodgen, director of the Office for At Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Human Services Coordination, part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. He will serve as executive director of the new Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of HHS’ National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB).
“We all can experience psychological consequences during and after a disaster, and there are things that can be done to mitigate these effects and improve our overall response and recovery,” said Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, who chairs the board.
The Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee will submit recommendations for discussion and deliberation to the NBSB within 180 days. The subcommittee’s recommendations will address communication, education and interventions before, during and after these types of emergencies. The board will then make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Mandated by the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, the board provides expert guidance and advice to the HHS Secretary regarding activities to prevent, prepare for and respond to chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological health emergencies.
The subcommittee consists of NBSB members, ex-officio agency representatives, and invited experts. This effort is led by HHS, in collaboration with the departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Homeland Security.
Subcommittee members were selected from among the nation’s preeminent scientific, public health, and medical experts. They include service delivery providers, researchers, representatives of at-risk groups, state and local mental health and substance abuse authorities, public health, epidemiology, occupational safety and health, emergency management, and training.
More information about the NBSB and the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee are available at http://www.hhs.gov/aspr/omsph/nbsb/.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Follow HHS on Twitter @HHSgov and sign up for HHS Email Updates.
Follow HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Twitter @Sebelius .
Last revised: May 7, 2011