• Whether flash flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes or cyclones, the scale of people witnessing catastrophic environmental events means that there is often an urgent need for psychological aid in the aftermath and in the months and years after the initial event.


    Distress behaviours can often slip under the radar, especially in the rush to rebuild and resume normalcy. The underlying concern is as society moves forward, those needing psychosocial support will eventually be left behind as initial aid dries up.


    Our research focuses on the role of psychological first aid (PFA) in mitigating these distress behaviours among displaced communities and exposure to retraumatisinf events and chronic anxiety affects long-term recovery. We approach our research through a prevention lens, meaning that we are ultimately moving to create better mechanisms for disaster mental health in communities frequently exposed to extreme natural disasters and those of past disasters who are still in need of mental health services. This will include studying the impact of delayed disaster relief on people’s ability to adopt coping mechanisms, with particular interest on Puerto Rico, Katrina and Haiti.


    Alongside our partners, we will further measure the risks of trans-generational trauma. Initial studies will observe the validity of this observation among communities displaced by Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the Asian tsunami in 2004 and Nepal’s earthquake in 2015. Our policy recommendations will be developed for the MHPSS sector and civil society from the standpoint of disaster mental health prevention. These policies will be reviewed and revised in ongoing conversations with communities and partners in the field.


    External to and published independent of Between Borders

  • IMC (2016): Exploring the Mental Health and Psychological Support Needs and Resources among Earthquake-Affected Communities in Nepal

    Save the Children (2015): Tsunami Ten Years On, Stories of Change.

    Center for Strategic and International Studies (2012): Mental Health Service Reform Post-Disaster: Lessons for Japan.

    Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2015): Desk Review of Existing Information with Relevance to Mental health and Psychological Support.

    Save the Children (2015): Still at Risk - U.S. Children 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina


  • Scarred Communities - Psychosocial Impact of Man-made and Natural Disasters on Sri Lankan Society

    Daya Somasundaram

    Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change: A Clinician's Guide

    Leslie Davenport

    Disaster Mental Health Interventions: Core Principles and Practices

    James Halpern and Larla Vermeulen


  • Disaster Recovery and Mental Health

    American Psychological Association's Medical Mind Podcast

    Round Table Discussions with Dr. Paul Meier: Natural Disasters and Trauma

    Mental Health News Radio

    Tara Hughes: Disaster Mental Health: An Emerging Social Work Practice

    inSocialWork Podcast

    The Sorm After the Storm


    Children and Natural Disasters

    The Measure of Everyday

    Puerto Rico’s Mental Health Crisis

    The Daily from The New York Times

    Coping with Natural Disasters & Deanna's experience with the Thomas Fire

    Hilarious Humaniatrians Podcast

    Hurricane Harvey - When the Healing Hasn't Started

    Redefine Enough



  • Inside a Suicide Prevention Center in Puerto Rico

    The New York Times

    How Natural Disasters Can Impact Your Mental Health

    CBS News

    Mental Health & Natural Disasters (Japan Tsunami 2011)


    The Children of Puerto Rico Face Mental Health Challenges

    USA Today

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