Monday, June 7, 2010

Being There When It Counts: Proceedings of the 8th Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Conference

Edited by George W. Doherty
Loving Healing Press (2010)
ISBN 9781615990399
Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views (06/10)

"Being There When It Counts: Proceedings of the 8th Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Conference" is the latest release from Editor George W. Doherty in a series dedicated to highlighting the focus and activities of the Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Institute.  Their latest conference, held in November 2009 in Cheyenne, Wyoming presents valuable information for others in the mental health field to absorb and apply to their own preparations for disaster.  Aside from some minor spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors, the book provides a wealth of knowledge for the emergency management professional.

Doherty organizes his book by the authors and their respective presentations given at the conference.  Subjects and discussions include linking victims to necessary resources for optimal recovery, considerations for affected persons with mobility and functional issues (i.e., the physically and mentally handicapped portion of a population), group therapy, deployments and reintegration into normal life, recovery with regard to ethnic and socioeconomic status, and mental health considerations for Emergency Operations Center personnel.  I found the chapter on deployments, titled, "Healing the Wounds of Deployment: The 'Art' of Coming Home" by Sandi J. Lloyd was exceptionally applicable during these modern times of troop deployment and war in foreign countries.  Each and every family with a deployment member has been through the growing pains of being left behind, adjusting to a new life routine, and later having to readjust (sometimes with great difficulty) when the deployment is over.  Speaking from personal experience, the military does a grossly inadequate job of preparing families for reintegration and finding that 'new' normal.  The community service offices and family support groups in each of the military branches would greatly benefit by utilizing and distributing Lloyd's information in their standard family packets/propaganda material.

"Being There When It Counts" should be read by every emergency management professional but especially by those operating in a mental health related capacity.  While returning a community to its pre-disaster condition is the goal of response and recovery, it must include not only the physical but the mental aspects for recovery to be truly effective.  George W. Doherty provides this in "Being There When It Counts" while continuing to offer additional subjects and presentations in disaster mental health in previously published conference proceedings.