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Int J Emerg Ment Health. 2012;14(2):112-22.

Community capacity-building in disaster mental health resilience: a pilot study of an academic/faith partnership model.

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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, USA.


We describe an academic/faith partnership approach for enhancing the capacity of communities to resist or rebound from the impact of terrorism and other mass casualty events. Representatives of several academic health centers (AHCs) collaborated with leaders of urban Christian-, Jewish-, and Muslim faith-based organizations (FBOs) to design, deliver, and preliminarily evaluate a train-the-trainer approach to enhancing individual competencies in the provision of psychological first aid and in disaster planning for their respective communities. Evidence of partner commitment to, and full participation in, project implementation responsibilities confirmed the feasibility of the overall AHC/FBO collaborative model, and individual post-training, self-report data on perceived effectiveness of the program indicated that the majority of community trainees evaluated the interventions as having significantly increased their: (a) knowledge of disaster mental health concepts; (b) skills (self-efficacy) as providers of psychological first aid and bereavement support services, and (c) (with somewhat less confidence because of module brevity) capabilities of leading disaster preparedness planning efforts within their communities. Notwithstanding the limitations of such early-phase research in ensuring internal and external validity of the interventions, the findings, particularly when combined with those of earlier and subsequent work, support the rationale for continuing to refine this participatory approach to fostering community disaster mental health resilience, and to promoting the translational impact of the model. An especially important (recent) example of the latter is the formal recognition by local and state health departments of program-trained lay volunteers as a vital resource in the continuum of government assets for public health emergency preparedness planning and response.

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