Psychology professor named to national sub-committee on community health in disasters

Russell T. Jones

Russell T. Jones

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 1, 2008 – Russell T. Jones, professor of psychology in Virginia Tech's College of Science, has been named to a new subcommittee in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Jones joins a select group of national experts to develop recommendations for protecting, preserving, and restoring individual and community mental health in catastrophic events.

Studies show that mental health and substance use concerns increase during and after disasters and other public health and medical emergencies. The conditions include stress, insomnia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We all can experience psychological consequences during and after a disaster, and there are many things that can be done to mitigate these effects and improve our overall response and recovery,” said Patricia Quinlisk, who chairs the committee.

Jones serves as consultant with the Disaster Technical Assistance Center, part of the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Jones has assisted in a number of trauma-related events. He participated in trauma-related workshops in the gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina, presented at a Congressional hearing on disaster relief, accompanied first lady Laura Bush on a visit to displaced children and their families and continues to correspond with the First Lady’s Office at the White House.

Jones received his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University, his master’s and Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University, and he completed his clinical internship at Brown University. He also holds a secondary appointment at Yale University’s Child Study Center.

Subcommittee members were selected from among the nation’s preeminent scientific, public health, and medical experts.

“It is indeed an honor to work with this group of esteemed colleagues,” Jones said. “I am hopeful that our combined efforts will have a meaningful impact on the understanding and appreciation of issues related to technological and natural disasters.”

The committee will make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services by the end of the year.