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Tools to Mitigate and Understand the Mental Health Effects of National Disasters



The physical impact of Hurricane Katrina occurred over hours and days. The mental health effects of this large-scale, traumatic event may be fully evident only over weeks, months, years, and, perhaps, generations. The types of trauma from such events are many, diverse, and complex. The affected populations, including both direct victims and those secondarily involved (e.g., first responders, care givers, care providers, educators), number in the millions. For these reasons, there is an urgent need for tools to mitigate the effects of national disasters and for tools to better understand the relationship between this trauma and the mental health of those subjected to it. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) solicits such tools, which may be novel or they may be modified versions of existing tools. In all cases, however, the cultural context of the target population must be taken into account to assure that these tools are more effective and their use more valid for that population (whether defined by culture, socioeconomic status, age, etc.).

Applicant organizations based in states affected by national disasters, with expertise in research and development of tools solicited here, are likely to appreciate the relationship between local culture and tools to be developed. Such organizations are strongly encouraged to apply in response to this funding opportunity announcement. Also encouraged under this FOA are collaborative relationships between the applicant organization and community-based organizations based in the affected areas. Such relationships represent powerful ways to not only develop valid and effective tools, but also to connect with the members of the community for whom those tools are intended to provide help.


The goal of this initiative is to support small businesses to develop commercializable, and culturally- and age-appropriate new tools, or to enhance existing tools, to mitigate or understand the mental health effects of national disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, on primary victims, first responders, and others more indirectly affected by such disasters.

Research Activities and Examples

The types of tools solicited by this FOA includes, but are not limited to those used for assessment, prevention, intervention or dissemination of information about mental health effects of large-scale traumatic events. Also solicited are tools to disseminate relevant information to health care providers and others (e.g., teachers, religious leaders, community leaders, etc.).

  • Tools may be novel or enhanced versions of existing tools
  • Included are research tools, as well as tools for diagnosis, preventative or treatment intervention, or dissemination of relevant information.
  • Tools may be targeted to researchers (i.e., research tools), or to victims, health care providers, educators, care givers, first responders, community leaders, religious leaders, etc.
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