9/11 has important lessons for mental health workers

September 09, 2002

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- While New York's firefighters and police officers have been widely honored for their heroism in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the city's mental health professionals waged a quieter, but in some ways equally heroic effort -- to organize a large-scale response to help local residents cope with severe stress and grief.

The massive clinical intervention mobilized to support New Yorkers can now serve as a model for Sacramento and other communities responding to major tragedies, according to Robert Hales, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC Davis School of Medicine and director of mental health services for Sacramento county.

"New York's mental health professionals created one of the largest clinical interventions ever to address staggering rates of acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder," said Hales. "The post-9/11 response provides valuable lessons for our local community that will be useful if an incident requires a large-scale intervention to help hundreds or even thousands of residents cope with a tragedy."

The lessons learned from the post-9/11 effort will be among the subjects addressed at an upcoming UC Davis symposium for local mental health professionals, "The September 11th Tragedy One Year Later: Psychiatric Responses to Terrorism and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." The Oct. 25 event will feature leading national and international authorities on the psychological response to terrorism.

Speakers include John M. Oldham of New York's Columbia University, who helped organize a massive mobilization of psychological support services for New York City residents after the attacks. Other key speakers include:The UC Davis symposium is designed for physicians and psychiatrists, as well as social workers, marriage and family therapists and other interested health care providers. The event is expected to attract up to 150 participants. For more information, contact the UC Davis Health System's Continuing Medical Education program at 1-866-CME4EDU or (916) 734-5390. More information is also available at http://cme.ucdavis.edu
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Copies of all news releases from UC Davis Health System are available on the Web at http://news.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

University of California - Davis Health System

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