Friday, December 19, 2008

Georgia Disaster Mental Health Site is Online

The Georgia Disaster Mental Health website, designed and produced by University of West Georgia faculty, staff and graduate students, is operational and available for public use.

Sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Georgia Division of Public Health and Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases, the far reaching site for residents is one of the most comprehensive sites of its kind in the nation and addresses many of the stresses any kind of catastrophe can bring to an individual, a family or a community.

Dr. Larry Schor, associate professor of psychology, and Vicki Rogers, a service desk manager in Information Technology Services at UWG, worked with colleagues and students for six months to create the site.

“Common setbacks result from the chaos and confusion that occurs when people are affected by disaster,” said Schor. “My experience as a disaster mental health counselor is that people really want the life they had before the disaster. The challenge is to find ways to begin to move forward.”

The response from state agencies and the public has been positive and frequent with agencies in other states requesting information on how the site was developed. Rogers said it was quite an undertaking.

“As a technical consultant and webmaster, this was the largest project I’ve ever worked on,” said Rogers. “We have already begun to update the site and I plan on working on the project over the holiday break. It’s a huge undertaking with a lot of information. Larry’s passion and expertise on the subject of disaster mental health makes this a very good site.”

Schor has assisted in mental health counseling after many disasters including the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

“I am optimistic that people will benefit from the website,” said Schor. “Although I think the challenge will be getting the word out and convincing people on the importance of being prepared. Just as we tend to think about changing our windshield wiper blades when it is raining, people tend to deal with disaster needs only when they are affected directly.”

Schor said that people could go to the site and read about preparedness before a disaster and use the internal search to find topics such as “preparedness kits.” The website is also available in Spanish and offers resources and information on how to cope and prepare for a disaster to the elderly, members of the military, persons with disabilities and public school systems.

The site also links to a wide range of organizations including the American Red Cross, Center for Disease Control and, Georgia’s disaster and emergency website. For more information, go to

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