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College of Human Ecology

Professor to lead state disaster mental health plan

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

MANHATTAN -- When disaster strikes, a Kansas State University professor may be there to help.

Briana Nelson Goff, associate professor of family studies and human services, has been named project coordinator for the Kansas All Hazards Behavioral Health Preparedness Response and Recovery plan. The one-year contract is through the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, Mental Health Services, and has the potential to extend beyond 2005.

Nelson Goff will be in charge of developing a state plan for disaster mental health. Although there are numerous organizations involved in disaster emergencies, Kansas does not currently have a plan for disaster mental health and other behavioral health issues.

"Each state has an emergency operations plan that outlines, in the event of an emergency, who is responsible for what," Nelson Goff said. "After 9/11, people started to become more aware of the long-term impact of disasters and recognized that there may be a need for crisis counseling."

To develop the plan, Nelson Goff will be examining programs from other states as well as traveling to other organizations to develop collaborations within the state. The initial plan must get approval for the project to be added to the Kansas Emergency Operations Plan.

"We will be developing networks with mental health centers in different regions of the state," Nelson Goff said. "If there is a disaster in that area, there would be a network or team of mental health professionals and community citizens who would be able to provide crisis counseling and similar services."

Because emergency response differs from normal counseling, Nelson Goff will also be coordinating training programs for both mental health and other helping professionals to recognize the need for emergency mental health. In addition, Charlie Griffin, K-State research assistant professor of family studies and human services and director of the Kansas Rural Family Helpline, will be providing expertise on rural mental health outreach and crisis intervention for the project.

Nelson Goff, who began her duties for the Kansas All Hazards Behavioral Health Preparedness Response and Recovery plan Jan. 1, will divide her time between the All Hazards Behavioral Health plan and her duties at K-State. Utilizing the concept of the team approach, teams at two sites will be working together: one team located at the Topeka Social and Rehabilitation Services office, with a second office at K-State where Nelson Goff and four students will work.

Vickie Hull, December 2004 graduate in family studies and human services, Lawrence, will be working in the Topeka office. The students working with Nelson Goff are: Jared DuPree, graduate student in human ecology, and Courtney Winslow, junior in family studies and human services, both of Manhattan; Michael Smith, senior in management information systems and psychology, Pittsburg; and Stephanie Wick, graduate student in family studies and human services, St. George.

Nelson Goff, who joined K-State's faculty in 1998, has researched post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of traumatic stress on couple and family systems. She has traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina to research the effects of war on children. Nelson Goff is a member of various organizations including the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Kansas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She is also the adviser to the Trauma Research, Education and Consultation
at K-State Team. Nelson Goff is a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist and received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from K-State and her doctorate from Texas Tech University.

This article was posted on Tuesday, February 8, 2005, and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.