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The Integration of Mental and Behavioral Health Into Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

Abstract

The close interplay between mental health and physical health makes it critical to integrate mental and behavioral health considerations into all aspects of public health and medical disaster management. Therefore, the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) convened the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee to assess the progress of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in integrating mental and behavioral health into disaster and emergency preparedness and response activities. One vital opportunity to improve integration is the development of clear and directive national policy to firmly establish the role of mental and behavioral health as part of a unified public health and medical response to disasters. Integration of mental and behavioral health into disaster preparedness, response, and recovery requires it to be incorporated in assessments and services, addressed in education and training, and founded on and advanced through research. Integration must be supported in underlying policies and administration with clear lines of responsibility for formulating and implementing policy and practice.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;6:60–66)

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Betty Pfefferbaum, MD, JD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, PO Box 26901-WP 3470, Oklahoma City, OK 73126-0901 (e-mail: Betty-Pfefferbaum@ouhsc.edu).

References

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1.US Department of Health and Human Services. National Health Security Strategy of the United States of America ; 2009. http://www.phe.gov/preparedness/planning/authority/nhss/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed January 31, 2012.
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