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Psychiatry. 2012 Winter;75(4):305-22. doi: 10.1521/psyc.2012.75.4.305.

Practical legal and ethical considerations for the provision of acute disaster mental health services.

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Crisis Management Consultants, Inc, in Edmond, Oklahoma, USA.


Mental health professionals who provide emergency psychosocial assistance in the immediate aftermath of disasters do so in the midst of crisis and chaos. Common roles undertaken by disaster mental health professionals include treating existing conditions of disaster survivors and providing psychosocial support to front line responders and those acutely affected. Other roles include participating in multidisciplinary health care teams as well as monitoring and supporting team members' mental health. When, in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, mental health professionals provide such assistance, they may take on legal and ethical responsibilities that they are not fully aware of or do not fully comprehend. Unfortunately, not much has been written about these obligations, and professional organizations have provided little guidance. Thus, the purpose of the present article is to outline and discuss an analysis framework and suggest recommendations that mental health professionals can use to help guide their actions during the chaos immediate post disaster.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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