LSUHSC’S PSYCHIATRY DEPARTMENT RECOGNIZED FOR POST-KATRINA WORK IN SCHOOLS
New Orleans, LA – The Department of Psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine has been chosen to receive the prestigious 2009 Distinguished Partners in Education Award by the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana Department of Education. One of only 11 organizations statewide receiving the award, the LSUHSC Department of Psychiatry was nominated by John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award recipient Doris Voitier, Superintendent of the St. Bernard Parish Public School System. The LSUHSC Department of Psychiatry worked with Voitier, her faculty, and St. Bernard students and their families, to provide the mental health services and emotional support that were instrumental in helping the St. Bernard Unified School open in November, 2005, 11 weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The award, being presented on June 17, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. at the Lod Cook Conference Center on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, is given annually to a select number of businesses, industries, associations, or individuals who have made significant contributions to education in Louisiana.
The LSUHSC Department of Psychiatry has a strong commitment to collaborating with and supporting schools, especially those in areas heavily devastated by the disaster following Hurricane Katrina. LSUHSC Psychiatry faculty have provided training on trauma focused interventions, consultation, and delivery of desperately needed longer term services. The need for trauma-focused services has been great. In Fall 2006, the LSUHSC Louisiana Rural Trauma Services Center and the re-opening schools used the NCTSN Hurricane Screening and Assessment Tool, modified for cultural sensitivity. Approximately 49% of 4th-12th graders in New Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes, in the most heavily devastated areas, met cut-off for mental health referral; 12% independently requested counseling. Twenty-nine percent of younger children met cut-off for mental health services; 36% of their parents requested counseling.
The training, consultation, evaluation, and treatment services being provided by the LSUHSC Department of Psychiatry, in collaboration with schools, are extremely important in supporting the resiliency and recovery of not only the students, but in supporting the staff – teachers, social workers, counselors, school psychologists, and school nurses – and improving the school environment.
"We believe that the LSUHSC programs contribute positively to child, adolescent and family mental health at a time when many children are still recovering from the aftereffects of the 2005 hurricanes and have experienced subsequent traumatic experiences," notes Dr. Howard Osofsky, Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine.
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