Simons, J. S., Gaher, R. M., Jacobs, G. A., Meyer, D., &Johnson-Jimenez, E. (2005). Associations between alcoholuse and PTSD symptoms among Red Cross disaster relief workers responding to the 9/11/2001 attacks.
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
The Development and Maturation of Humanitarian Psychology
Gerard A. JacobsUniversity of South Dakota
Humanitarian psychological support as an organized ﬁeld is relatively young. Pioneers in the ﬁeld were involved primarily in providing psychological support to refugeesand internally displaced persons in conﬂict and nonconﬂict situations. This article describes basic principles for thedesign of psychological support programs and interventions. The International Federation of Red Crossand Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) began a psychologicalsupport program in 1991. The IFRC chose psychological ﬁrst aid as its model for implementation in developingcountries. Psychological ﬁrst aid ﬁts all the principles for psychological support program design and is adapted toindividual communities. The ﬁrst generation of psychological support programs differed dramaticallydepending on the countries in which they were developed. A second generation of psychological support programsevolved in response to the earthquake/tsunami of December 26, 2004. The Inter-Agency Standing Committeeinternational guidelines consolidated the advances of second-generation programs and provided a clear indication of the wide acceptance of the importance of psychological support. A glimpse is provided of the third generation of psychological support programs, and anadmonition is made for a more empirical evaluation of theeffectiveness of interventions.
disaster mental health, humanitarian assistance,international psychology, psychological support, psycholog-ical ﬁrst aid
The Flight 232 aviation disaster in Sioux City, Iowa, onJuly 19, 1989, was the ﬁrst of a series of events that led tothe development of a national plan for disaster mentalhealth services (Jacobs, 1995). As a result of our work inthat disaster relief operation, Randy Quevillon and I pro-posed to both the American Psychological Association(APA) and the American Red Cross the development of anational plan for providing psychological support in theaftermath of disasters. Similar ideas were ﬁelded fromother psychologists in the months that followed as a conse-quence of Hurricane Hugo in the Southeast United Statesand the Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern California.After two years of preparation, APA and the Red Crossannounced in October 1991 that they had reached an agree-ment to have APA support the Red Cross in routinely pro-viding psychological support in disaster relief operationsboth for those directly affected by the event and for thehumanitarian relief workers who respond.In 1992, I visited the International Red Cross and RedCrescent Museum in Geneva. I was very impressed withthe Wall of Time, a display listing each of the disastersand conﬂicts that had resulted in more than 1,000 deathssince the founding of the Red Cross in 1859, all of whichwere arrayed around the circular outer wall of the museum.It was striking that out of the many hundreds of eventschronicled on the wall, only a few had occurred in theUnited States. It became clear to me that as disaster psy-chology developed, it would need to look beyond the bor-ders of the United States to include an international hu-manitarian perspective and to serve a much broader worldaudience.Essentially, the term
refers tostrategies for helping meet the psychological needs of ordi-nary people who have experienced extraordinary events. Itfocuses on helping people deal with the emotional, cogni-tive, physiological, and behavioral reactions to traumaticevents. Traditional mental health services, in contrast, fo-cus on responding to psychopathology or on long-termself-improvement. Over the past 15 years, concepts of psy-chological support have evolved and matured. Terminologyin the ﬁeld can still be somewhat confusing, and terms areoften used with contradicting deﬁnitions. In many cases,however, psychological support has been categorized into(a) disaster mental health or disaster psychology, whichinvolves services provided by mental health professionals,and (b) psychological ﬁrst aid, which involves support pro-vided by family, friends, and neighbors but not by mentalhealth professionals (Jacobs & Meyer, 2005).I have served as an American Red Cross Disaster Ser-vices volunteer since the crash of Flight 232. I was one of Editor’s Note
Gerard A. Jacobs received the International Humanitarian Award. Award winners are invited to deliver an award ad-dress at the APA’s annual convention. A version of thisaward address was delivered at the 115th annual meeting,held August 17–20, 2007, in San Francisco, California. Articles based on award addresses are reviewed, but theydiffer from unsolicited articles in that they are expressionsof the winners’ reﬂections on their work and their views of the ﬁeld.
932 November 2007