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Building a National Model of Public Mental Health Preparedness and Community Resilience: Validation of a Dual-Intervention, Systems-Based Approach

  • O. Lee McCabe (a1), Natalie L. Semon (a2), Carol B. Thompson (a3), Jeffrey M. Lating (a4), George S. Everly (a5), Charlene J. Perry (a6), Suzanne Straub Moore (a7), Adrian M. Mosley (a8) and Jonathan M. Links (a2)...
Abstract Objective

Working within a series of partnerships among an academic health center, local health departments (LHDs), and faith-based organizations (FBOs), we validated companion interventions to address community mental health planning and response challenges in public health emergency preparedness.


We implemented the project within the framework of an enhanced logic model and employed a multi-cohort, pre-test/post-test design to assess the outcomes of 1-day workshops in psychological first aid (PFA) and guided preparedness planning (GPP). The workshops were delivered to urban and rural communities in eastern and midwestern regions of the United States. Intervention effectiveness was based on changes in relevant knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) and on several behavioral indexes.


Significant improvements were observed in self-reported and objectively measured KSAs across all cohorts. Additionally, GPP teams proved capable of producing quality drafts of basic community disaster plans in 1 day, and PFA trainees confirmed upon follow-up that their training proved useful in real-world trauma contexts. We documented examples of policy and practice changes at the levels of local and state health departments.


Given appropriate guidance, LHDs and FBOs can implement an effective and potentially scalable model for promoting disaster mental health preparedness and community resilience, with implications for positive translational impact.(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;8:511-526)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to O. Lee McCabe, PhD, Johns Hopkins Hampton House, 624 N Broadway, Ste 193, Baltimore, MD 21205 (e-mail:
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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
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  • EISSN: 1938-744X
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