APA's Disaster Response Network Changes its Name to APA's Disaster Resource Network

On January 1, 2016, the Disaster Response Network changed its name to Disaster Resource Network. The advisory committee as well as APA staff believe that the name more accurately reflects the breadth of the program. What follows is that announcement.

Twenty-five years ago, the Disaster Response Network of licensed, disaster-trained psychologists across the United States was created to offer onsite mental health services to Red Cross workers and victims of disaster. Over the years, psychologists have responded to more than a thousand disasters of various types. Their work is frequently featured in APA publications.

Today, in keeping with advances in the field and public needs, approximately 2,500 licensed and disaster-trained psychologists engage with APA to help individuals and communities prepare, respond, and recover from disaster. Their activities include:  contributing to disaster planning meetings; participating in drills; teaching disaster courses; and tracking disaster mental health research in addition to providing onsite psychological support.

APA is a recognized leader in the disaster mental health field because its members conduct the majority of research, publications, training, and evaluations. Numerous federal agencies and non-profit organizations contact the association for psychologists’ expertise and program resources.

APA gains positive visibility nationwide through its Disaster Resource Network. Its engaged members actively contribute to the association’s mission to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

The program also supports the association’s strategic plan in the following ways:

The Disaster Resource Network (DRN) maximizes organizational effectiveness

  • Engages in numerous cost-saving initiatives to limit meeting expenses, expand use of technology to conduct meetings, and using listserv, teamsite, and email for primary program communications.
  • Maintains an online disaster mental health resource center readily accessible to all APA members engaged in the DRN. Ultimately make available to all APA members.
  • Provides disaster mental health resources to APA’s International Office as requested to help other countries’ psychological associations following disaster.
  • Collaborates with APA Education Directorate, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, and Ethics Office to identify existing resources (e.g. culturally informed practice, disaster ethics) to enhance the training of DRN participants.

The DRN expands psychology’s role in advancing health

  • Trains psychologists in disaster mental health to promote a healthy individual and community response to disaster.
  • Collaborates with federal agencies to support emergency medical systems following disasters, particularly for instances known to increase panic and anxiety such as biological and radiological contaminants, and pandemics.
  • Supports trained, licensed psychologists as they offer emotional and behavioral support to survivors and response workers to enhance their resilience skills following Red Cross protocols.
  • Distributes health and coping information to the public via the Psychology Help Center and through APA Public Education Campaign.
  • Selects DRN leaders to be interviewed by national media outlets about disaster and ways people can promote their health and well-being.

The DRN increases recognition of psychology as a science

  • Shares psychological research with the American Red Cross, Department of Health and Human Services, FEMA, and other governmental and non-governmental agencies to help shape decision-making about mental health and disasters.
  • Contributes to children’s disaster mental health research by participating on an expert panel at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
  • Expands educational resources and opportunities in psychological science by tapping the expertise of DRN members to create brief online training modules for topics where training does not already exist (i.e., 2014 APA CE Clinician’s Corner webcast, “Disaster Ethics: The Road Beyond Good Intentions”).
  • Advocates for psychologist disaster researchers to present their findings at national disaster conferences; writing articles about researchers’ presentations for APA publications, and website.
  • Moving forward, aspires to expand the translation of psychological science to evidence-based practice by identifying disaster mental health core competencies and promoting training based upon current psychological research and knowledge.

If you have an interest in disaster response, please feel free to contact Dr. Rebecca Thomley – 763-450-5045. She is Minnesota’s Disaster Resource Network representative and the North Central United States Advisor.

Rebecca S. Hage Thomley, Psy.D., LP., is the Disaster Resource Network’s Minnesota representative and represents the North Central states on the APA advisory committee to this Network. She is an active mental health responder to the American Red Cross as well as other disaster response organizations. She responds nationally and internationally to disasters.     

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