Community Psychology: A Common Sense Approach To Mental Health

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Community Psychology: a Common Sense Approach to Mental Health

Community Psychology: a Common Sense Approach to Mental Health

Crisis Intervention Evolved Into a Human Services Subspecialty

Crisis intervention has evolved from being a grassroots movement implemented by volunteers into a professional subspecialty with institutional support. Let us trace the process by which any particular type of crisis is first addressed by volunteers and later by professionals in institutions (Bensley 2007). The need for crisis intervention services is at first unrecognized by the public and by existing institutions until such time as a critical mass of victims comes together to exert enough legal, political, or economic pressure to cause the particular crisis category, malady, or social problem to become formalized. Until that time, it remains informal, non-professional, and unsubsidized (Smead 2008). The problem is responded to or handled mainly through ad hoc, informal means by former victims, current victims, friends, or significant others who are affected by the problem. Examples include Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD), which tries to reduce the number of young people killed by drunk drivers, the veterans groups organized to respond to the PTSD epidemic among military veterans following the Vietnam War, and the Aid to End AIDS Committee to prevent the spread of AIDS and enhance the quality of life of HIV-infected people(Roberts 2005a).

The ecological, contextual model of crisis intervention, based on ecosystem theory that has emerged on the international scene, is characterized by continuously accelerating events in dynamically changing cultures and environments (Conyne et al., 2003; James & Gilliland, 2003, pp. 341-342). Foremost among these events in the United States has been the September 11, 2001, hijackings and terrorist attacks and destruction of the World Trade Center Towers in New York City, the attack on the Pentagon, and a crashed airliner in Pennsylvania. These tragedies caused untold grief, loss of property, loss of life, economic damage, and a change in the attitudes of most Americans regarding safety and security (Bass & Yep, 2002; Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Greenberg, 2002). The events following 9/11 also set in motion other unprecedented events, such as the passage of the Homeland Security Act by the U.S. Congress and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and placed security in the United States at wartime levels. Practically every American had the feeling of having been individually attacked (Brainerd, 2002) and that we were, indeed, at war.

Roles Played By Volunteers and Trained Professional Consultants

A model of volunteer participation in a community mental health centre emergency and reception service is presented and tested by comparing the telephone counselling effectiveness of volunteers and community mental health professionals(Roberts 2005b). Experienced and inexperienced volunteers, professionals, and control subjects responded to simulated telephone crisis calls that were tape-recorded and replayed for ratings along seven scales which assessed various dimensions of counselling effectiveness(Roberts 2005 ). The results suggested that carefully selected and trained volunteers can function as effectively as professional staff in providing supportive and emergency telephone services for distressed ...
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