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Georgiadisaster.info is Online

UWG recently announced the launch of the newly developed Disaster Mental Health website for Georgia, www.georgiadisaster.info.

Truly an in-house, team effort, instructor of art, Gordon Chandler, contributed the use of one of his paintings for the site.

Truly an in-house, team effort, instructor of art, Gordon Chandler, contributed the use of one of his paintings for the site.

Georgiadisastaer.info is designed and executed by West Georgia faculty, staff and graduate students and will undergo revisions and additions while being accessible to the public.

Dr. Larry Schor and Dr. Mark Kunkel, associate professors of psychology, and Vicki Rogers, Service Desk manager in ITS, worked with colleagues and graduate students for almost three years to create the site.

Truly an in-house, team effort, the painting posted on the site was contributed by local artist and adjunct instructor of art, Gordon Chandler.

“As a technical consultant and webmaster, this was the largest project I’ve ever worked on,” said Rogers. “We have already begun to update the site. It’s a huge undertaking with a lot of information. Larry’s passion and expertise on the subject of disaster mental health makes this a very good site.”

Rogers said she spent a lot of her winter break updating and tweaking the site. It will be an ongoing process for the psychology department and ITS to maintain the site.

Schor has assisted in mental health counseling after many disasters including in the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

“Common setbacks result from the chaos and confusion that occur when people are affected by disaster,” said Schor. “My experience as a disaster mental health counselor is that people really want the life they had before the disaster. The challenge is to find ways to begin to move forward.”

Schor said that people could go to the site and read about preparedness before a disaster and use the internal search to find topics such as recovery. The website is also available in Spanish and offers resources and information on how to cope and prepare for a disaster to the elderly, members of the military, persons with disabilities and public school systems.

The response from state agencies and the public has been positive and organizations in other states have requested information on how the site was developed. Rogers said it was quite an undertaking.

“I am optimistic that people will benefit from the website,” said Schor. “Although I think the challenge will be getting the word out and convincing people on the importance of being prepared. Just as we tend to think about changing our windshield wiper blades when it is raining, people tend to deal with disaster needs only when they are affected
directly.”

The website is a comprehensive disaster mental health website providing a wealth of information for the general public as well as specific constituencies such as persons with disabilities, military, educators and professional responders.

Georgiadisaster.info is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Resources using federal funds from the Community Health Preparedness Program, and was developed by the University of West Georgia. So far, the project has received grants to fund it for several years.

Also sponsored by the Georgia Division of Public Health and Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases, the far reaching site for residents is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the nation and addresses many of the stresses any kind of catastrophe can bring to an individual, a family or a community.

The site also links to a wide range of organizations including the American Red Cross, Center for Disease Control and Georgia911.org, Georgia’s disaster and emergency website. For more information, go to www.georgiadisaster.info.

 

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