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Home > Public Resources > Trauma Blog > 2000 - Winter > President's Column

President's Column

January 1, 2000

The role of public health practice and research will be highlighted in the theme of the 16th Annual Meeting, Nov. 15-19, in San Antonio and reflected in the focus of several new and ongoing society initiatives.

Public health practice focuses on the prevention and control of illness in the community, in contrast to clinical practice that focuses on the cure or care of the individual patient presenting for treatment. In terms of implementation, public health models focus on mobilizing local, state, national and international resources to resolve problems affecting the physical and mental health of communities.

At present, most efforts to deal with the mental health consequences of exposure to traumatic events have been grounded in clinical rather than public health principles and practice. Given the staggering number of humanitarian and natural disasters occurring throughout the world, both clinical and public health treatment approaches are needed to address the effects of traumatic stress.

The 2000 annual meeting will highlight community public health efforts to prevent and treat the effects of traumatic stress through the application of scientific and technical knowledge.

Thanks to the efforts of Ellen Frey-Wouters, ISTSS and the United Nations have initiated a collaborative effort to develop a document to inform and guide public mental health practice and policy in countries torn by exposure to traumatic events for the United Nations.

Matt Friedman and Terry Keane co-chair an international working group to review both public health and clinical practices and processes that can be employed to mitigate the effects of traumatic stressors on general populations, as well as on U.N. personnel. Other members of the Steering Committee are Ellen Frey-Wouters, Bonnie Green, Joop de Jong, Sandy McFarlane, Susan Solomon and myself. Yael Danieli is serving as a special consultant to this project. This new effort complements the outstanding work of ISTSS's representatives to the United Nations that includes Danieli's work with the UN International Criminal Court and Frey-Wouters' work as chair of the Steering Committee for the UN NGO Caucus on Trauma.

Other new initiatives include the organization of a task force to examine the feasibility of developing guidelines for international trauma training (Chair Stevan Weine) and ISTSS's participation in a new multidisciplinary non-profit organization, the PTSD Alliance.

The mission of the PTSD Alliance is to increase awareness and promote a better understanding of the prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD. The PTSD Alliance will provide education resources to medical and health care professionals, at-risk individuals and their families, patients diagnosed with PTSD and the general public, as well as general consumer and medical health care trade media. Rachel Yehuda will serve as principal ISTSS representative to the Alliance.

ISTSS has derived great benefit from the intellectual and humanitarian energy and passion that our members devote to their work with, for and on behalf of trauma survivors. The major accomplishments of the society are directly attributable to our members' generous voluntary donations of their expertise, experience, time and effort.

Recent examples of such dedication and commitment by scores of ISTSS members include the development of a pamphlet edited by Susan Roth and Matt Friedman to inform policy makers, health professionals and the media about the role of memory in traumatic stress and the ISTSS treatment guidelines for PTSD edited by Edna Foa, Terry Keane and Matt Friedman. Another case in point is the high-quality consumer brochure on childhood trauma developed by the Public Education Committee, chaired by Laurie Anne Pearlman.

These initiatives highlight ISTSS's strong commitment to promoting greater awareness of the complementary roles of public health and clinical practice approaches to treating the effects of traumatic stress internationally, regionally and locally.

2000 ISTSS Executive Committee
John Fairbank — President
Rachel Yehuda — Vice President
Danny Kaloupek — Treasurer
Patty Resick — Secretary
Sandy McFarlane — Past President
Bonnie Green — President-Elect