An exploratory study of crisis management and disaster mental health training in master's-level student affairs preparation programs
Trahan, Lori Lynn
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Student affairs professionals work in a variety of roles on campus. Entry-level practitioners in particular work in roles that require them to have direct contact with the student body on their campus. Because of this direct contact, these professionals are often the first on-the-scene, or the last to leave the scene after a campus crisis. Therefore, it is imperative that new professionals receive the appropriate training, not only for working with the students in their charge, but also the self-care techniques that will aid the professional’s own recovery. The purpose of this study was to identify what concepts related to crisis management and disaster mental health are currently being taught in Master’s-Level Student Affairs Preparation programs, while also seeking to gain insight as to which of the crisis management and disaster mental health concepts are perceived by faculty as being important to include in the curriculum. This study utilized a quantitative method known as survey research. The primary faculty contact for the Master’s-Level student affairs program at 150 institutions was contacted to participate in the study; 59 of those faculty members responded to the survey. The results of this study demonstrate that while organizations such as the Council for Accreditation Standards in Higher Education, ACPA-College Student Educators International, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, and NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education have each put forth recommendations and/or standards for the inclusion of teaching crisis management and disaster mental health concepts, these preparation programs have been slower to implement these concepts into the curriculum. This study has implications for Master’s-level student affairs preparation programs. The researcher found most programs (84%, n=35 of the respondents) did include instruction on Making appropriate referrals. Further, Understanding how legislation affects how threats are handled on campus was also included as a covered topic (68.9%, n=31). Very few campuses (13.3%, n=6) included instruction on understanding the Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System. Both of these concepts are required for Federal reimbursement for disaster-related expenses under the Stafford Act.