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Rising from the ashes by expanding access to community care after disaster: An origin story of the Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative and preliminary findings.

Heinz AJ, Wiltsey-Stirman S, Sharin T, Loskot T, Mason D, Jaworski BK, McGovern M. Rising from the ashes by expanding access to community care after disaster: An origin story of the Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative and preliminary findings. Psychological Services. 2021 Jun 28; 19(Suppl 2):58-66.

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Abstract:

In October of 2017 and 2019, Sonoma County California endured historic wildfires and subsequent community trauma. The Sonoma Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative was created to (a) democratize access to evidence-based mental health resources and services for personal recovery and long-term community resilience building, and to (b) measure the reach and efficacy of the strategies employed in order to create a knowledge base to inform disaster response in other communities. Offerings included a mind-body yoga program and training in Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) for counselors who wished to provide services to individuals impacted by the wildfires. An evaluation of the mental health strategies employed revealed that (a) the mind-body program was well-received, with a high degree of satisfaction and self-reported benefit among individuals who attended trauma-informed yoga classes and (b) counselors found SPR to be a practical, flexible short-term intervention for individuals in the aftermath of the wildfires and expressed moderate to high levels of intent to use it in practice. Importantly, the evaluation of the 2017 wildfire mental health response was compromised by the Kincade Fire in 2019, in which prolonged mandatory evacuations and power outages impacted response rates. The origin story is shared for how a community collaborative was built. Lessons learned are discussed and recommendations summarized so as to contribute to the science and practice of disaster mental health outreach. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).





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