In a duel effort to provide instruction and to provide itself with
more volunteers, the South Central Mississippi Chapter of the American
Red Cross is recruiting mental health professionals to attend a
Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Service course Jan. 30-31.
The free course
is open to licensed mental health professionals and graduate students
in health counseling, psychology, psychiatry, social work, marriage
and family therapy, and nursing with a psychiatric specialty.
will focus on the role of licensed and certified mental health providers
as Disaster Mental Health Services workers. It will explore the
skills and techniques used within various Red Cross disaster settings.
include the following:
the range of emotions experienced by clients as well as Red Cross
paid and volunteer staff during disasters and Red Cross relief
some of the factors that might influence the emotional impact
on the community.
the role of Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Services and how
it supports Red Cross disaster relief operations on major relief
operations as well as single-family disasters in local chapters.
the various settings in which Disaster Mental Health Services
the mental health techniques used by Disaster Mental Health Services.
a plan of action for participants' further involvement with the
Hours for the
course are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 30 and 8 a.m. to noon Jan.
of those signed up already are from Southern Miss," Red Cross
Chapter Manager Babs Faulk said, adding that the South Central Mississippi
Chapter worked for months to get the only qualified instructor of
this particular type of course to Hattiesburg, Dr. Nina Stephenson
we are offering this course is that the most important service we
offer victims of disasters, whether it be fire or hurricane or some
other situation, is mental health services," Faulk said. "It's
the quietest thing we offer, but it's the most important."
clothing, housing, food and other support, but we need to attract
trained professionals so they can help these victims of disaster
cope (with their situation)."
when professionals retire, they often become full-time volunteers
for the Red Cross, traveling to different areas when mental health
coping skills are needed.
a handful now; however, this program can give us new volunteers
to call upon. It gives us more people involved because we have to
have people on standby 24-7, even though they are rarely called
out to help."
Each year the
American Red Cross responds to more than 67,000 disasters nationwide.
It was chartered by Congress in 1905 to "carry on a system
of national and international relief in time of peace and apply
the same in mitigating the sufferings caused by pestilence, famine,
fire, floods, and other great national calamities, and to devise
and carry on measures for preventing the same," according to
the organization's Web site. The Red Cross claims more than one
million volunteers serving their communities. The charter, aside
from giving the American Red Cross the power to respond to disasters,
also created "a set of obligations to the nation, disaster
victims and those who support the American Red Cross through generous
The South Central
Mississippi Chapter serves Forrest, Lamar, Covington, Perry, Stone,
Marion, and Jeff Davis counties.
goal is to have some of the Southern Miss Marriage and Family and
Nursing faculty staff our disaster services course - people certified
as Red Cross instructors integrated into the curriculum so when
they graduate, they would have already had the course," Faulk
said. "This course is our first step toward that goal."
For more information,
call the South Central Mississippi Chapter at (601) 582-8151.