Professional News
Clinicians Need Better Trauma Training
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 18 page 14-14

Project Liberty, the federally funded Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program managed by New York state after the September 11 attacks, received a mixed review in a report in the September issue of Psychiatric Services.

"A high level of interagency collaboration, engagement of nongovernmental organizations to provide services, media education efforts, and ongoing program evaluation all contributed to the program's successes," wrote Lloyd Sederer, M.D., medical director of the New York State Office of Mental Health, and five colleagues.

They added, however, "[m]ental health professionals' limited experiences with trauma, options for funding treatment, duration of clinical program, and existing needs-assessments methodologies all proved challenging."

The program, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ran in two consecutive phases from September 12, 2001, to December 31, 2004, offering crisis counseling, education, or outreach services to a total of 1.5 million people.

But crisis counseling and outreach programs are not enough to help the part of the exposed population that may require more extensive treatment, said the report's authors. Better ways must be found to "identify those at risk of developing a serious or persistent mental illness."

To be prepared for disasters, clinicians need better training and experience in trauma-informed care.

In addition, crisis counseling and education, while helpful, are not enough, said the authors. Neither short-term "cognitive therapies" nor medications such as sedatives, tranquilizers, or antidepressants are paid for by the federal program, they noted.

"[D]isaster-related mental health services must include funding for treatment," they stressed.

An abstract of "Lessons Learned From the New York State Mental Health Response to the September 11, 2001, Attacks" is posted at <http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/62/9/1085>. The full article is posted at <http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/62/9/1085>.14_2.inline-graphic-1.gif

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