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In the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, rapid identification of pediatric mental health risk is extremely important. The Western Regional Alliance for Pediatric Emergency Management held an integrated, interdisciplinary national tabletop exercise to familiarize mental health and non-mental health professionals with Psychological Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (PsySTART), an evidence-based triage and incident management system used to evaluate new mental health risk impacts following exposure to traumatic events, such as coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Participants Participants were exposed to 3 practice cases that reflected a combination of “all hazards” scenarios and were asked to triage each case using PsySTART. Participants were asked to interpret results at both an individual site and aggregate county and/or state level.
The exercise had a total of 115 participants with a total of 156 discrete triage encounters. A user-defined operating picture was created with graphs of aggregate mental health risk data, generating cross-regional, real-time situational awareness. After the exercise, a vast majority of the participants reported confidence in their ability to use PsySTART in their practices.
Participants are now better equipped with tools to perform mental health triage for early intervention during COVID-19 and other disasters and understand risk on a population level.
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