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Book Review: Mental Health

Integrating Emergency Management and Disaster Behavioral Health. Edited by Brian Flynn and Ronald Sherman. ​Butterworth-Heinemann;; 370 pages; $125.

Following a disaster, the issues surrounding the mental health issues affecting both rescuers and survivors are frequently overlooked. Integrating Emergency Management and Disaster Behavioral Health is an excellent exploration of the topic, written by multiple contributors. Looking at mental health from both emergency management and behavioral health perspectives allows the authors to seamlessly transition between these two disciplines and make a convincing argument that both need to be considered throughout each stage of disaster management. 

While the book sometimes reads like a research paper, the topic is fascinating. The chapters include ample references and diagrams to convey both the seriousness and credibility of the material. Real-world examples illuminate the text.

Some chapters explore topics in a depth that may be too advanced for general security practitioners, especially those not involved with planning or coordinating emergency response efforts.

The ideal audience for this book would be emergency managers and those seeking to learn more about this discipline. The book would be a great addition to training courses on the National Incident Management System because those learning about emergency management for the first time would be exposed to the behavioral health implications following a disaster. Individuals working with or studying human behavior, such as clinical psychologists, mental health counselors, and aid workers, will also find value in understanding how people individually and collectively react to the stress of major disasters.

Overall, this book presents a unique and desperately needed argument for integrating two vital but sometimes distant disciplines. At a time when factions debate over what constitutes mental illness and what such a diagnosis means, this book becomes a timely resource.

Reviewer: Yan Byalik, CPP, is the security administrator for the City of Newport News, Virginia. He has 16 years of security experience in multiple industries, managing security officers, campus security officers, and special conservators of the peace. Byalik is the assistant regional vice president for ASIS Region 5A in Southeast Virginia. ​