Keynote announcement: Associate Professor Sarb Johal, Disaster Mental Health, Joint Centre for Disaster Research Massey University, NZ

Sarb Johal PhotoWe are pleased to announce Associate Professor Sarb Johal as a confirmed keynote speaker at the 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference held at Jupiters Gold Coast, QLD 30-31 May 2016.

Experiencing or going through a disaster as a civilian or as a disaster relief worker can lead to mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. How can psychology services best be delivered to address the long term impacts on a community following a disaster?

Associate Professor Sarb Johal will be discussing people working in disaster management and how they often have reduced opportunities to reflect upon their work and the impact that it may be having upon them, especially when working out of the ‘Readiness’ phase. This opportunity to reflect can be a critical factor in how communities – both professional and more personal – are able to provide help for others and themselves.

Dr Sarb Johal is a Clinical Psychologist, Health Psychologist, and Associate Professor in Disaster Mental Health at the Joint Centre for Disaster Research (GNS Science / Massey University), based in Wellington. He has held roles in Government Service in both NZ and the UK including Senior Advisor to the Emergency Management Team at the Ministry of Health (NZ), Principal Advisor to the Ministry of Youth Development (NZ), and Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Health in the Department of Health (UK). He continues to support the recovery work in Canterbury through his research work and advisory relationships with CERA, MSD, MoH, CDHB, EQC as well as internationally through the WHO and UNISDR.

Dr Sarb Johal will discuss the shared experience of going through a disaster oneself and having a job where one cares for others and how it’s a precarious balancing act. Presenting research that identifies rescue and recovery workers engaged in disaster relief are indeed at increased risk of developing mental health problems and how mental health patients’ problems are becoming increasingly complex and the care provided for them more and more fragmented affecting the long-term human impacts of disasters.

Psychosocial approaches to disaster management pay close attention to the dynamic relationship that exists between intra-individual psychological processes and impacts and more inter-individual social processes and effects, continually interacting with and influencing each other. In this presentation, Dr Sarb Johal outlines some of the challenges faced when delivering psychosocial services to affected communities, or indeed when conducting research in these situations and puts forward some suggestions to counteract these to thrive.

The 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held at Jupiters Gold Coast, QLD 30-31 May 2016. The Conference theme ‘EARTH, FIRE and RAIN’ will continue to examine issues that impact preparedness, resilience, response and capability. To register for the 2016 Conference CLICK HERE. To view confirmed keynote speakers CLICK HERE.