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Disasters and Mental Health

Thursday, April 24, 2014, 11:15 am – 1:45 pm

Kennedy Room, Charles Hotel1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Disasters, natural or man-made, put enormous stress on virtually every function of society. In recent years, cities where disasters have been prevalent, such as Karachi, have experienced an increased incidence of mental illness related to the pervasive psychological trauma of recurrent disasters and violence. Moreover, mental health services, in areas without pervasive trauma, are an ongoing challenge throughout South Asia, with involving issues of stigma, access to adequate treatment, and awareness.

What are the best practices in urban disaster planning and response, and how can trauma care be implemented effectively in dense urban settings? Goals are to outline a plan for a needs assessment in urban areas, explore innovative undertakings to promote access to mental healthcare, and discuss the need for training of health workers.

Faculty lead: Jennifer LeaningFrançois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, HSPH; Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights

Ruth BarronAssistant Professor of Psychiatry, HMS

Click here to register for this workshop.



Symposium Preview: Q&A with Jennifer Leaning

Events at Harvard and in the region




Managing the dead, trauma and survivors
The Express Tribune

We can’t build our way out of disasters any more: Prof. Jennifer Leaning
The Express Tribune

‘The population of Karachi has doubled in 15 years’
The Express Tribune

Karachi may be growing, but its medical care is stunted
The Express Tribune




Dr. Junaid Razzak

CEO AMANHEALTH, Senior Lecturer, Aga Khan University in Karachi
Expertise: Emergency medicine; public health in the context of Pakistan; health policy and management

Jennifer Leaning

François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, HSPH; Director, FXB Center for Health and Human RightsProfile

Usha Periyanayagam

Harvard School of Public Health FellowProfile

Jon Mousally

Massachusetts General HospitalProfile

Shamaila Khan

Clinical Director, Disaster Behavioral Health Training Program at Boston Medical Center.

Shamaila has a psychodynamic background and an interest in postcolonial theory. Her specialty training is in Trauma: Individual trauma, group/community based trauma, disaster related trauma, immigration and postcolonial trauma. Her additional interests are in multicultural clinical practice and multivariate aspects of identity development and she has presented on these topics at varying national and international conferences. Dr. Khan received her Clinical Psychology doctorate from Adelphi University in NY. She was the Director of the Haiti SERG and is currently the Clinical Director of the Resilience Training Program at BMC.

Diya Kallivayalil

Instructor in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical SchoolProfile

Shawn D’Andrea

Harvard School of Public Health FellowProfile

Ruth Barron

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Barron is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, and is the Director of Adult Outpatient Psychiatry at the Cambridge Health Alliance. Dr. Barron has a longstanding interest in Disaster Psychiatry and Trauma. She was a member of the first American Red Cross mental health team for Hurricane Hugo in the Caribbean in 1989. She was then a founder of the Disaster Mental Health Service nationally in the American Red Cross disaster relief in the early 1990’s. She has worked as an investigator and an educator for Physicians for Human Rights in Soviet Georgia (1989) and in Kosovo (1998-2001). She has served as a representative for the American Red Cross at international meetings and has consulted to the American Red Cross on the Hurricane Katrina mental health effort. Dr. Barron is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed her residency in psychiatry at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She completed a fellowship in psychopharmacology at the Mailman Research Center at McLean Hospital.

Satchit Balsari

Chief, Weill Cornell Global Emergency Medicine Division, and Faculty, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthProfile