The tower of ivory meets the house of worship: psychological first aid training for the faith community.
ABSTRACT Clergy and laity have been a traditional source of support for people striving to cope with everyday tragedies, but not all faith leaders have the specialized knowledge required for the challenges of mental health ministry in the aftermath of widespread trauma and mass casualty events. On the other hand, some mental health professionals have acquired high levels of expertise in the field of disaster mental health but, because of their limited numbers, cannot be of direct help to large numbers of disaster survivors when such events are broad in scale. The authors have addressed the problem of scalability of post-disaster crisis mental health services by establishing an academic/faith partnershipforpsychological first aid training. The curriculum was piloted with 500 members of the faith community in Baltimore City and other areas of Maryland. The training program is seen as a prototype of specialized first-responder training that can be built upon to enhance and extend the roles of spiritual communities in public health emergencies, and thereby augment the continuum of deployable resources available to local and state health departments.