College of Arts & Sciences Disaster Mental Health Institute

International Work

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings were adopted June 27, 2007. These guidelines provide a "how-to" for anyone wanting to provide psychological support in international emergencies.

If you would like to request training or consultation from the DMHI, please email us at dmhi@usd.edu or call us at +1-605-677-6575.

American Red Cross

  • In 2001, DMHI Director Dr. Jerry Jacobs was asked to serve as a psychosocial support delegate in India following the devastating earthquake centered in Gujarat. He served there for 3.5 months. During that time, he was asked by WHO to coordinate the psychosocial efforts of all NGO's involved in the relief effort.
  • Dr. Jacobs also was tapped by the International Response Unit to accompany a plane load of evacuees from the Cayman Islands following Hurricane Ivan in 2004. 
  • In April 2005, Dr. Jacobs was asked to consult with psychological support programs being developed by the American Red Cross in response to the December 26, 2004 tsunami in India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.
  • In the fall of 2005 Dr. Jacobs conducted trainings of trainers in Community-Based Psychological Support for the American Red Cross programs in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Indonesia.
  • In the Summer of 2007 the DMHI completed providing the Graduate Certificate in Disaster Psychology-Asia for the American Red Cross and the Indonesian Red Cross in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

American Psychological Association

  • In January 2005, Dr. Jacobs was named APA's consultant for the December 26, 2004 tsunami. In that regard, he was part of the organizing committee for the International Union of Psychological Science's workshop for tsunami-affected countries held in Singapore in May 2005. He continues to consult on psychological support programs in the affected countries on behalf of APA. 
  • In November 2005, he conducted a training of trainers in Community-Based Psychological Support for psychologists in India. 
  • In 2006, Dr. Jacobs was named recipient of the APA Division of International Psychology's "Distinguished International Psychologist Award." 
  • Dr. Jacobs received the 2007 APA International Humanitarian Award.
  • Currently, Dr. Jacobs is chair of the Advisory Group on International Humanitarian Emergencies.

International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies

The IFRC asked the DMHI in 1996 to collaborate in developing the Federation's Psychological Support Programme. That year, we collaborated in the first IFRC training of trainers for psychological support, which was held in Bulgaria. Since then, we have consulted with the IFRC Secretariat and the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychological Support, which is housed in the Danish Red Cross in Copenhagen.

In 1997, the DMHI and the IFRC signed a Statement of Understanding. Under that SOU, the DMHI was assigned to provide consultations and/or training for national Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies in Malta, The Gambia, Kenya and Turkey. The DMHI was called on to provide a crisis intervention in The Gambia after a "line of duty" death of a first aid volunteer during civil unrest there.

The IFRC also selected the DMHI to conduct the external evaluation of the IFRC Psychological Support Programme in 1997-1998. The DMHI helped design and provided an instructor for the first Training of Trainers for an international Roster for Psychological Support in 1998, and provided an instructor for the second Training of Trainers in 2000.

The DMHI helped author two chapters for the annual World Disaster Report. Dr. Jacobs served as an Assistant Editor of the Coping With Crisis world newsletter from 1997-2002. In 2001, Dr. Reyes (a DMHI faculty member from 1999-2005) was chosen to be one of two authors of the "IFRC Community-based Psychological Support: A Training Manual". The DMHI has also placed advanced doctoral students in the Reference Centre as externs beginning in 1999. In 2003, the IFRC/DMHI SOU was renewed.

World Health Organization

In 1999, the World Health Organization (WHO) asked the DMHI to collaborate in the development of a model for assessing the mental health needs of refugees. After two years of work involving nearly all the resources of the DMHI, working together with Mary Petevi of WHO and Jean Pierre Revel of the IFRC, the WHO published the Rapid Assessment of Mental Health of Refugees, Internally Displaced and Other Populations Affected by Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations. In an Address to the International Consultation on the instrument at WHO's world headquarters, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO, cited the DMHI's contribution to the effort as a model for collaboration between institutes of higher education and WHO, and again cited our contributions in an editorial in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia.

Asian Disaster Preparedness Center

The DMHI and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center have a Statement of Understanding, signed in 2004, to collaborate in developing training and consultation in psychological support for Asian nations. One of the DMHI's Morgan Fellows served as an extern there during the Fall 2003 semester. A joint ADPC/DMHI regional training in Community-Based Psychological Support for both decision-makers and providers took place in Bangkok in May 2005.

Other International Work

  • The DMHI has provided training and/or consultation in Canada, China, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Switzerland, Turkey, and Venezuela in addition to the agency-affiliated work described above.
  • In 2002, the DMHI presented a joint doctoral course with the University of Copenhagen.
  • A DMHI Morgan Fellow interned with Dr. Kevin Ronan's research team at Massey University in New Zealand in 2000.
  • The DMHI has provided training experiences in its own facilities for students and professionals from Germany, Mongolia, Taiwan, and Venezuela.