General disaster psychiatry

Amir Garakani, Jack Hirschowitz, Craig L. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Disasters can be defined as traumas that affect communities, the size of which has grown in the age of television and the Internet. It is, therefore, a more daunting task for mental health workers to offer their services to, and help identify, the people most at risk of developing psychiatric sequelae. Disaster psychiatry is a burgeoning subspecialty developed to help individuals and communities deal with the aftermath of traumatic events. The first goal is rapid mobilization to the site to provide aid to all people involved in the disaster. Another task is identifying people who are at greater risk of developing subsequent mental illnesses and referring them for long-term care. It is vital that psychiatrists collaborate with any agencies involved in the relief effort, whether they are other health care workers, uniformed services, the American Red Cross, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Media organizations may work to spread highly graphic and sensitive news coverage and images, but they also can play a role in helping educate communities and offering reassurance in times of crisis. Ongoing tragedies across the world continue to provide lessons into the resilience of communities. Nonetheless, disaster psychiatry is playing a role in helping to restore the lives of individuals affected by these tragedies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-406
Number of pages16
JournalPsychiatric Clinics of North America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004


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