From the CEO

This month, I was planning to devote my column to another update on the APA response to the tsunami that occurred in December. However, to the horror of all of us, another major natural disaster occurred, this time on our own shores. As in the case of the tsunami, there was an outpouring of compassion by APA members and our main governance groups--the Council of Representatives and the Board of Directors. This column outlines the steps APA will take in aiding Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

1.) Aid to all victims. APA will donate $50,000 to each of the following organizations--the Red Cross, the Bush-Clinton Katrina Recovery Fund and Habitat for Humanity. These donations will be earmarked for Katrina recovery efforts.

2.) Aid to members. APA will provide a one-year dues and practice assessment exemption for all members and affiliates who live and/or work within the affected areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama (as determined by the U.S. Postal Service's designation of Zip code areas where mail delivery was/is suspended as a result of storm damage or by FEMA disaster designations).

3.) Aid to psychology academic and training communities.

  • One-year fees exemption: We will offer a one-year accreditation and sponsor-approval fees exemption for academic/institutional sponsors of accredited programs and for continuing-education sponsors in the storm-affected areas.

  • Electronic product licensing extension: We will allow a four-month free contract extension on all leases and licenses to colleges and universities where the impact and damage are so bad that they will not be opening for classes for two to four months.

  • Grants to psychology departments and training programs: We will establish a $50,000 fund to assist psychology education and training departments and institutions in the replacement of destroyed materials or other needs associated with the hurricane. Grants of up to $5,000 will be available.

4.) Aid in the mental health aspects of the response.

  • Facilitation of ongoing mental health efforts: We will continue to encourage members to volunteer with Red Cross/APA Disaster Response Network and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration mental health efforts by placing relevant links on our Web site. We will provide other relevant links when they become available and create and supply information materials to other community leaders and members who will have direct and informal contact with storm victims, such as teachers, ministers, hairdressers and police officers. These materials will include information on loss, traumatic stress, dislocation and resilience.

  • Grants to state psychological associations: We will establish a $50,000 fund to allow state associations to apply for grants for activities related to mental health training and services related to Hurricane Katrina. Funds could also be used to meet other state association needs related to the hurricane. Each grant could be up to $5,000.

  • Emergency Task Force on Multicultural Training: This will be a nine-member task force (four representatives from the ethnic-minority associations and five other members appointed by the APA president). It will begin its work quickly utilizing face-to-face meetings and Web and telephone communications to make recommendations to the board about ways APA and the ethnic-minority psychological associations could help ensure culturally competent services to victims and their families.

5.) Aid in information exchange. We will provide support for APA's Div. 31 (State, Provincial and Territorial Psychological Association Affairs) and the Council of Executives for State and Provincial Psychological Associations in their effort to create a Web-based clearinghouse of resources needed and resources available through each of the 50 state associations.

6.) Educating the public.

  • Outreach to media organizations: In addition to our ongoing efforts to respond to media requests, we will proactively contact media outlets to offer experts on the mental health aspects of the hurricane aftermath. In particular, we can reach out to national programs such as Dr. Phil (who has already consulted APA staff) and Oprah to assist in shows that might take this focus.

  • Use of the American Psychological Association Web site as a national public education tool: Materials about trauma and trauma recovery have been posted on the site and will be updated as appropriate. The APA Web site as an information response has been publicized through press releases and in national publications.

  • Outreach to policy-makers and federal agencies: We will facilitate and provide input on legislative and agency activities related to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts to promote the application of psychological science and to ensure the inclusion of a mental health perspective.

The cost of the aforementioned activities in terms of donations and forgone revenue will be approximately $465,000 for APA. Therefore, the association will continue to monitor developments and stands ready to provide additional relief assistance as appropriate in the future.