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Integrating authorities and disciplines into the preparedness-planning process: A study of mental health, public health, and emergency management

Madeline Robertson, JD, MD, Betty Pfefferbaum, MD, JD, Catherine R. Codispoti, MHA, Juliann M. Montgomery, MPH

Abstract


The process of integrating all necessary authorities and disciplines into an organized preparedness plan is complex, and the inclusion of disaster mental health poses specific challenges. The goals of this project were 1) to identify whether state mental health preparedness was included in state public health and emergency management preparedness plans, 2) to document barriers to entry and strategies reportedly used by state authorities in efforts to incorporate reasonable mental health preparedness into existing public health and emergency management preparedness planning, 3) to employ a theory for organizational change to organize and synthesize this information, and 4) to stimulate further discussion and research supporting coordinated preparedness efforts at the state level, particularly those inclusive of mental health. To accomplish these goals we 1) counted the number of state public health preparedness and emergency management plans that either included, mentioned, or omitted a mental health preparedness plan; 2) interviewed key officials from nine representative states for their reports on strategies used in seeking greater inclusion of mental health preparedness in public health and emergency management preparedness planning; and 3) synthesized these results to contribute to the national dialogue on coordinating disaster preparedness, particularly with respect to mental health preparedness. We found that 15 out of 29 publicly available public health preparedness plans (52 percent) included mental health preparedness, and eight of 43 publicly available emergency management plans (18 percent) incorporated mental health. Interviewees reported numerous barriers and strategies, which we cataloged according to a well-accepted eight-step plan for transforming organizations.


Keywords


mental health, preparedness, disaster, integration, planning process

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2007.0022

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