We are a small team relying on expertise and good will of our volunteers (primarily psychiatrists) to engage in supportive role after a disaster. Our experience of thousands of volunteer hours since 1998 guides us on these typical interventions:
- Most practicing mental health professionals benefit from specific post disaster training – our 1-2 day scalable training brings together elements of trauma work, consultation and liaison psychiatry, psychological first aid, community psychiatry, child psychiatry
- Cultural and regional differences can be immense and are greatly amplified in disasters – an assessment mission, typically by the minimum of two team members for two weeks is dispatched once basic safety is re-established. (This is both to minimize the burden on recipient community and be more effective as conversation about psychological effects can not start before physical safety is established). This is the time when local connections are consolidated and there is clarity of what can be most effective for the specific needs and community.
- Based on the initial assessment – follow up team or teams can be assembled and sent at 3-4 and 6-8 month mark. Primary focus is training and support of local providers – team may be relatively small, consisting of 2-4 highly qualified providers for 2 weeks. Direct care may play a limited role.
- Training of local teams of up to 20 providers in a 1-2 day training slots depending on the professional affiliation (shorter for mental health providers, longer for allied professionals, teachers, general medical workers) can take place in repeated cycles. Leads for follow up are established.
- Upwards of a 100 local providers can be trained directly. Some can be prepared in a “train the trainer” methodology to integrate local expertise and sustain the response.
- Whenever possible, and based on specific requests capacity building training is integrated (focus on a specific therapeutic modality, for example).
- Additional collaborative projects with schools, clergy – wherever mental health consult may be appropriate and needed – are an integral part of the response (Yogic breathing, mindfulness exercises or specific family education tools can be developed and has been used as part of our response).
- Telemedicine and telephonic/email support can be provided for longer periods of time to support the local providers with specific additional educational and care materials all at no cost to the community.
DPO Team Members, Drs. Sophia Banu, Sacheen Shrestha, Jeffrey Taxman and Shristi Shah and Team Advisor – Dr. Namita Rajouria-Malla are actively preparing through additional “just in time” trainings. We are coordinating with local entities and individuals committed to relief of psychological as well as physical consequences of this disaster. Building up additional capacity for ongoing care is an important and ongoing effort facing our colleagues in Nepal and DPO will be doing everything we can to assist.
We have reached out to the local leaders for more guidance on needs and response.
- Special thanks to Rato Bangla School – an important strategic partner.
Please visit us regularly for ongoing updates, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore collaboration. Please visit our Team’s posts for more information on details of our response.