School Interventions After the Joplin Tornado
ABSTRACT Background/Objective To qualitatively describe interventions by schools to meet children's needs after the May 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado.
Qualitative exploratory study conducted six months after the tornado. Key informant interviews with school staff (teachers, psychologists, guidance counselor, nurse, principal), public health official, and physicians. Report After the tornado, school staff immediately worked to contact every enrolled child to provide assistance and coordinate recovery services. Despite severe damage to half of the city's schools, the decision was made to reopen schools at the earliest possible time to provide a safe, reassuring environment and additional services. An expanded summer school session emphasized child safety and emotional wellbeing. The 2011-2012 school year began on time, less than three months after the disaster, using temporary facilities. Displaced children were bused to their usual schools regardless of their new temporary residence locations. In just-in-time training sessions, teachers developed strategies to support students and staff experiencing anxiety or depression. Certified counselors conducted school-based, small-group counseling for students. Selective referrals were made to community mental health providers for children with greatest needs.
Evidence from Joplin adds to a small body of empirical experience demonstrating the important contribution of schools to postdisaster community recovery. Despite timely and proactive services, many families and children struggled after the tornado. Improvements in the effectiveness of postdisaster interventions at schools will follow from future scientific evidence on optimal approaches. Kanter RK , Abramson D . School interventions after the Joplin tornado. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(2):1-4 .
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ABSTRACT: New Orleans school children participated in an assessment and field trial of two interventions 15 months after Hurricane Katrina. Children (N = 195) reported on hurricane exposure, lifetime trauma exposure, peer and parent support, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depressive symptoms. Teachers reported on behavior. At baseline, 60.5% screened positive for PTSD symptoms and were offered a group intervention at school or individual treatment at a mental health clinic. Uptake of the mental health care was uneven across intervention groups, with 98% beginning the school intervention, compared to 37% beginning at the clinic. Both treatments led to significant symptom reduction of PTSD symptoms, but many still had elevated PTSD symptoms at posttreatment. Implications for future postdisaster mental health work are discussed.Journal of Traumatic Stress 01/2010; 23(2):223-31. DOI:10.1002/jts.20518 · 2.72 Impact Factor
New England Journal of Medicine 09/2010; 363(13):1193-5. DOI:10.1056/NEJMp1008304 · 54.42 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This study evaluated 1) the natural course of posttraumatic stress and depressive reactions among untreated adolescents from two cities in an earthquake zone (Gumri and Spitak) and one at the periphery (Yerevan) who were differentially exposed to the 1988 Spitak earthquake in Armenia and 2) the effectiveness of brief trauma/grief-focused psychotherapy among adolescents from Gumri. One hundred twenty-five adolescents were assessed with the Child Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index (CPTSD-RI) and the Depression Self-Rating Scale (DSRS) at 1.5 and 5 years postearthquake. At 1.5 years, trauma/grief-focused group and individual psychotherapy was provided over 6 weeks to a group of students in Gumri. CPTSD-RI scores among untreated adolescents from Gumri and Spitak subsided significantly but mildly at follow-up, with scores from Spitak, the city at the epicenter, remaining above the cutoff for a diagnosis of PTSD. DSRS scores increased mildly in both earthquake cities but only significantly in Gumri. Among treated adolescents in Gumri, improvement in CPTSD-RI scores was three times that of the untreated Gumri comparison group. The treated group also tended to improve on their DSRS scores, whereas these scores worsened significantly among untreated subjects. Untreated adolescents exposed to severe trauma are at risk for chronic PTSD and depressive symptoms. Brief trauma/grief-focused psychotherapy is effective in reducing PTSD symptoms and halting the progression of depression. This study supports the implementation of mental health intervention programs in schools after disasters to reduce trauma-related psychopathology.American Journal of Psychiatry 01/2006; 162(12):2302-8. DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.12.2302 · 13.56 Impact Factor