January 31, 2005

Disaster Psychology Expert Gerard Jacobs, Ph.D., to Assist the American Psychological Association in Assessing the Mental Health Needs of Tsunami Survivors and How American Psychologists Can Assist

WASHINGTON -- The American Psychological Association (APA), in its ongoing efforts to help survivors of the tsunami in Southeast Asia, announced today that psychologist Gerard (Jerry) Jacobs, Ph.D., of the University of South Dakota will work with APA to help the association craft a plan to assist in the mental health needs of the tsunami survivors. Dr. Jacobs is director of the Disaster Mental Health Institute and Professor in the Clinical Psychology Training Program at the University of South Dakota.

Dr. Jacobs will be responsible reviewing the suggestions of APA members and APA elected leaders in order to develop a set of short-term, intermediate, and long-term recommendations concerning actions APA might take to address the mental health needs of the tsunami survivors, according to APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D. "Dr. Jacob's expertise in international disaster relief efforts and his experience in the Southeast Asia region make him the perfect person for this role and we look forward to working with him," said Dr. Anderson.

APA President Ronald F. Levant, Ed.D., is also looking forward to working with Dr. Jacobs and says helping meet the mental health needs of tsunami survivors is not an easy task. "It is a challenge to address the mental health needs of such a large population. The affected area involves 12 countries, 20 different languages and a wide range of cultures, but Dr. Jacobs' leadership and expertise will help us meet those challenges," said Dr. Levant.

Dr. Jacobs is one of only six Disaster Mental Health Managers in the American Red Cross national disaster team and is a manager on the elite Red Cross Critical Response Team. He has responded to a wide range of events, including the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and is also an instructor in disaster mental health for the Red Cross. Dr. Jacobs has served on the APA Task Force on Resilience in Response to Terrorism. He was a member of APA's Advisory Committee for the Disaster Response Network from its inception in 1991 until 2000. He also served as a member of APA's task force to study the responses to the Oklahoma City bombing. Dr. Jacobs has received two APA presidential citations for his contributions to the field of disaster psychology.

In international disaster response experience, Dr. Jacobs serves as a consultant to the International Federation of Red Cross's Psychological Support Program and has assisted in the development of psychological support programs in Bulgaria, Malta, The Gambia, and Turkey. He served as a consultant to the Kenyan Red Cross psychological support program for Kenyans affected by the bombing of the United States embassy in Nairobi. Dr. Jacobs has also been working closely with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in developing psychological support training and program development for Asia.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.