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Natural Disasters

Planning for Psychological First Aid

Wynn, Stephanie T.

doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000226
Feature: practice

ABSTRACT: Natural disasters leave survivors suffering physically, psychologically, and spiritually. An EF4 tornado on April 27, 2011, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, known as April's Fury, raised the question of how mental health practitioners (MHPs) might respond to address psychological needs, rather than being exclusively assigned to offer physical support immediately following a disaster. This article proposes planning ahead for MHPs to provide psychological first aid (PFA) in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe. Combating psychological issues early will hopefully help reduce the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or prolonged grief disorder (PGD) in survivors.

Stephanie T. Wynn, DNP, PMHNP-BC, RN, is an associate professor at Samford University, Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, Birmingham, Alabama. Stephanie has experience working with survivors of natural disasters. She is a certified mental health nurse practitioner, with practical experience including more than 15 years of psychiatric nursing.

The author reports no conflict of interest.

Accepted by peer-review 1/2/2015.

© 2017 by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship