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Global Experts Convene to Discuss Emotional Trauma Caused by Disasters


Leaders from the international community of psychosocial support responders are meeting to discuss how disasters affect individuals and to present lessons learned from recovery operations in response to the 2004 tsunami. The conference will be held at the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross oversees and supports psychosocial support programs throughout the tsunami-affected region.

“Critical needs of people affected by the tsunami went beyond food, water and shelter,” says Robert Laprade, Program Director of the Tsunami Recovery Program at the American Red Cross. “Our psychosocial support teams have helped hundreds of thousands of people overcome the emotional stress from losing loved ones, homes and belongings.”

In addition to sharing lessons learned and key accomplishments from organizations’ psychosocial responses to the tsunami and other disasters, the conference will focus on three key issues: assessing the impact of psychosocial support programs, clarifying the scope of the psychosocial support sector, and exploring the relative benefits of integrating psychosocial programs with other interventions versus implementing “stand-alone” programs.

Speakers at the conference will include renowned psychosocial experts such as Dr. Michael Wessells, Co-Chair of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Task Force on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, and Dr. Merry Bullock of the American Psychological Association. Two distinguished government ministers from the Maldives, Mr. Ibrahim Ismail Ali, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Education and Ms. Mazeena Jameel, Director of the Child and Family Protection Authority, will also attend the meeting.

As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross alleviates the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international crises, and works with other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations. We reconnect families separated by emergencies and educate the American public about international humanitarian law. This assistance is made possible through the generosity of the American public.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.


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