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The Disaster Mental Health Institute at the University of South Dakota has launched an intensive program to train graduate students and psychologists to respond to mental health needs after such disasters as hurricanes, floods and terrorist attacks.

Classes will meet this summer in Vermillion, S.D., June 10-July 2, and several hours of additional coursework are required during the months of May and August via the Internet. Participants can opt to attend two weeks of the training program this summer and the other half next year.

Those who complete the program receive a Graduate Certificate in Mental Health as well as American Red Cross certification in disaster mental health services.

"What this graduate certificate does is give people the basic knowledge they need to understand trauma and disaster and their impact on the citizens of the community-and to better understand how we as psychologists can provide, prepare for and respond to these events," says Gerard Jacobs, PhD, director of the Disaster Mental Health Institute.

Attendees must complete 12 credit hours, including three required three-credit courses-"Crisis Intervention," "Disaster Mental Health" and "Serving the Diverse Community in Disaster." For the fourth class, participants can select from courses on post-traumatic stress disorder and disaster management. Each class meets either in the morning or afternoon for two weeks. The on-site program will culminate in a capstone project-a simulation in which teams use information from a real disaster to design and apply a mental health response.

Information on lodging, registration, tuition and coursework is available at