Institute for Public Health Practice at the University of Iowa

Effect of Disasters on Mental Health: Awareness Level

This is an all levels course offering CPH — Free
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Time to Start

3-5 minutes


1.00 hour


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There are three sections in this course:

  • Section 1: Disaster, Trauma and Proximity to the Event
  • Section 2: Psycho-Physiology of Trauma and Fear
  • Section 3: Tools for Understanding

The intended audience is anyone who will come into professional contact with disaster victims, including DMAT, hospital workers, EMTs, primary care providers and public health workers

What You'll Learn

  • Define disaster
  • Define trauma
  • Describe how proximity to the event affects the potential for traumatic response
  • Describe the triune brain and how each part of it functions during a traumatic event
  • Describe automatic response to trauma: flight or fight, freeze, social engagement
  • Describe 4 major components in the psycho-physiological response to trauma: somatic, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive
  • Describe the epidemiological triangle in relation to the effect of disasters on mental health
  • Describe how various elements of the “agent”, “host” and “environment” of a disaster impacts its effect on the mental health of its victims
  • Analyze a disaster and its effect on victims using the epidemiological triangle
  • Describe the use of the Haddon Matrix in prevention, mitigation and intervention of disasters and their effect on mental health

Competency Terms

Emergency Preparedness and Response (all hazards)
Cultural Competency Skills
Cultural Influence on Policies, Programs, & Services
Policy, Program, & Service Impacts

Related Occupations

Behavioral Health Professional
Community Health Worker
Health Educator
Medical Examiner
Other Management & Leadership
Public health - multiple occupations will benefit
Social Worker

Related Job Tasks

Plan for emergencies
Respond to emergencies