Team working together to reduce disparities in disaster-related mental health

Experts in Baton Rouge are trying to improve mental health resources for people impacted by disasters.
Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 10:46 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 12, 2022 at 5:26 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Experts in Baton Rouge are trying to improve mental health resources for people impacted by disasters.

The struggle is something the public has seen far too often after hurricanes and the worst of the pandemic, and now the public is seeing what’s being done about that.

“Mental health is important,” said Dr. Jen Scott, LSU assistant professor at the School of Social Work. “It’s okay to realize that you’re not feeling the best and to reach out for help.”

Scott said when people think of disasters, they often think about all the structural damage.

“But I think as much of the world has come to experience over the last couple of years with the COVID pandemic, we realized that’s the real impact,” Scott said.

Scott was awarded a grant by the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to help with group mental health intervention in East Baton Rouge Parish. Click here to learn more.

“What we’re doing is it’s a community-based participatory research project,” Scott said. “So it’s Together Baton Rouge and myself in real partnership, and we’re implementing this brief group intervention.”

In collaboration with Mr. Khalid Hudson, lead organizer with Together Baton Rouge, and Dr. Tara Powell, intervention developer, they’re working on workshops in organizations and churches in Baton Rouge. This is going to help people think about their symptoms of stress and how they cope with it.

“What we hope to do with this is not only the delivery of this brief intervention but really think broadly with the community facilitators who are mental health practitioners who will be delivering invention,” said Scott.

The team is going to find gaps in services here and build up what we already have. The experts are in the first stages of the project as they work on a pilot workshop. They hope to start things up by 2023.

The team is also hiring for a program coordinator position to support the community facilitators and delivery of the intervention.

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