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Haiti Earthquake Massachusetts State Response. Building Emotional Resilience in response to the January Earthquake Ashley Pearson Director of Emergency Mgmt Svcs. MA Dept. of Mental Health May 14, 2010.

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Haiti Earthquake Massachusetts State Response

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Haiti EarthquakeMassachusetts State Response

Building Emotional Resilience in response to the January Earthquake

Ashley Pearson

Director of Emergency Mgmt Svcs.

MA Dept. of Mental Health

May 14, 2010

People walk along a street lined with buildings, which were destroyed after a major earthquake struck, in Port-au-Prince in this January 12, 2010 video grab. (REUTERS/Reuters TV

January 12th Earthquake

  • Worst Earthquake in 200 years to hit the island nation, 7.0 – country is vulnerable

  • 200-350,000 people deceased

  • 24 aftershocks measuring 5 – 5.9

  • Mainly in the Port-au-Prince area

  • 2009: 10 Million people

  • Pre-earthquake, 60% of pop. Under 24yrs.

  • Poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere

Haitian MA - Snapshot

  • 3rd largest population in the country

  • Approx. 70,000 people (2008 US Census estimate)

  • Haitians are relatively new as an immigrant population – 1960s

  • Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Randolph, Brockton and Worcester

  • Integrated across economic lines

Earthquake impacts Haitians in MA

  • Grief and Loss – family members

  • Providing Aid – bringing family members here

  • Mobilization of aid

  • Limits of available disaster aid

  • Many going to help in Haiti

  • Ongoing recovery

State Responses to Date

  • State Dept. – Office of Refugees and Immigrants

  • January 14th mobilization of DMH resources

  • Support to DMH Staff

  • Support to community, PFA trainings, DRCs

  • 450 Responder packets distributed

  • DPH (CDC funds) & SERG Grant

  • No Repatriation, small medical flights

DPH Response

  • Development of a Network of Care

    • Via Emergency Preparedness grant

    • Already existed via Mass League & CHCs

  • Providing

    • 11 CHCs funding for behavioral health support, from Cambridge – Brockton

    • Focus on post-disaster mental health and trauma recovery services to Haitian-American Community

      • Training, trauma-informed services w/mh needs

      • Use of linguistically and culturally competent mh clinicians

      • Use of CHCs already known to the community to provide continuity of care

      • Address youth and children’s needs

      • Public information, outreach and recruitment of community input

  • $500k from February to June 30, 2010

Examples of DPH services

  • One-to-one counseling

  • Psychosocial group work

  • Community meetings with psycho educational components

  • Neighborhood outreach campaigns

  • Inclusion of community members

  • Media outreach w/mental health components to offer counseling & advice

SERG Proposal-Focus

  • Relief and disaster recovery focus

  • Disaster behavioral health model

  • Expands beyond CHC:

    • Community members

    • Haitian returning/coming into state post-event

    • US citizens who were living in Haiti but returning post-event

    • Responders returning from helping in Haiti and those working with the community since January

SERG Grant – Programming

  • $1 million for a year

  • Extend CHC work, building upon network of care

  • Trainings – disaster behavioral health

    • Track A: train community members in

      • Psychological First Aid

      • Grief and Loss

      • Psychosocial education

      • Coping support skills-building

    • Track B: focus on helpers

      • Staff at CHCs

      • Faith based, community leaders, etc.

      • Responders

        • PFA, Grief/loss, cultural competence, education on the human impact of disasters

What is the Response built upon?

  • Past disaster experience

  • What we are learning from the community

  • Use of disaster programming

  • Disaster Behavioral Health techniques

  • Adaptation to the unique circumstances of this event and the population

  • Available resources


  • “Buzz Term”

  • Main Entry: re·sil·ience

    Pronunciation: \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\

    Function: noun

    Date: 1824

    • 1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress

    • 2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

  • Resilience in psychology is the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and catastrophe.

“Resilience" corresponds to cumulative "protective factors" and is used in opposition to cumulative "risk factors“

Building it develops an adaptive system that uses exposure to stress to provide resistance to future negative events

Terms for Emotional Resilience


psychological resilience



Mental toughness

Emotional Resilience

Like any good preventative measure, it prepares you for future potential negative impacts & is a form of self-care, stress management

Signs of HaitianEmotional Resilience

A injured child receives medical treatment after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince January 13, 2010. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

How they are helping each other

Residents search for victims after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince January 13, 2010. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Unique Conditions-Haiti

  • Cultural Norms – Health & Mental Health

What is Universal

  • We are learning from Haiti that

    • Impact is influenced by conditions but…

      • How people experience the human impacts

      • Comes down to individual circumstances

  • Conditions continue to be difficult

    • PFA, Emotional Resilience techniques

    • Give the people the tools – Triple T

  • Help continues – individuals, internal, external

Haiti - Recommendations

  • #1 Talk to the Haitians, community

    • Ask first, act later

  • Remember the uniqueness of individuals

    • “cultural norms” do not equal standards of care

  • Toolbox Approach

  • We are still in the middle & recovery will likely be protracted

Thank youquestions/feedback:Ashley.Pearson@state.ma.us617 626 8145

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