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Mental Health Disaster Preparedness

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Posted by on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 2:37
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The Division of Mental Hygiene’s Office of Mental Health Disaster Preparedness and Response (OMHDPR) integrates disaster mental health planning and response.

Mental Health Disaster Preparedness
Mental Health Disaster Preparedness

The MHDPR office’s role is to ensure and lead a coordinated response to mental health needs of New Yorkers generated by disasters and other public health emergencies. Preparing and planning for the mental health needs in the event of disaster in a city as diverse as New York is a complex task. It encompasses community preparedness, best practices, training, credentialing, identifying and organizing responders, conducting needs assessment, including set up and outreach.

Since its creation to plan and oversee a citywide mental health disaster response MHDPR developed a comprehensive, internal emergency response preparedness plan to maintain critical mental hygiene services in case of disasters. The newly created Mental Hygiene Incident Response team consists of staff throughout the Division of Mental Hygiene and is the central component of the preparedness plan. In coordination with providers, mobile crisis teams, hospitals and government partners, the team is designed to develop and implement a response to mental health emergencies. If a disaster occurred, the team would:

* • Assess essential mental health needs
* • Coordinate responder care services
* • Deploy provider staff
* • Conduct community outreach

The MHDPR office has built an extensive network of relationships with community-based and disaster response mental health agencies, as well as local, state and federal government partners. In addition, the Office developed response plans and protocols for voluntary disaster mental health providers in a tiered, function-based system.

The Division of Mental Hygiene also provides leadership and support to Mobile Crisis Teams under contract with the Department and assists mental health professionals and the public by coordinating, implementing and reviewing emergency and non-emergency requests for assistance to “at risk” mentally disabled persons in the community who demonstrate behavior dangerous to themselves or others in New York City.

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