Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Childhood Bereavement Expert David Schonfeld Addresses Disaster Mental Health Workers

Dr. David Schonfeld addresses attendees
One of the callings of American Red Cross disaster mental health workers is to give children affected by disaster support and guidance at one of the most difficult times in their lives—suffering the loss of a parent or close family member in a fire or other disaster.  

On Oct. 18, a total of 90 Red Cross disaster mental health volunteers and members of partner organizations joined Dr. David Schonfeld, a prominent figure in the field of childhood bereavement, at Greater New York Red Cross regional headquarters in Manhattan. Dr. Schonfeld led a best practices conversation about supporting the mental health needs of individuals in the aftermath of a disaster in which a child has perished.

He applauded the passion of the Red Cross volunteers. “They are an incredible resource for those affected by emergencies,” he said. “Their selfless compassion and skills provide relief and comfort during times of unbearable tragedy. It was amazing to see their dedication first hand and to engage with them in a discussion about best practices for supporting those who lose a loved one.”

Diane Ryan, lead specialist, Disaster Mental Health Services for the Greater New York region said that while Red Cross DMH volunteers are themselves licensed practitioners, they were enriched by Dr. Schonfeld’s discussion.

“Our disaster mental health volunteers mobilize quickly whenever there is a loss of a child due to disaster—a fire, flood or other incident,” Ryan said. “They are the compassionate presence for those who are suffering. The presentation today provided additional tools for this challenging work.” 

New York Life co-hosted the event.

“New York Life is proud to partner with the Red Cross and its disaster mental health volunteers to provide advanced level training on childhood bereavement,” said Maria Collins, MSW, Vice President, New York Life Foundation.  “Today’s discussion supports our vision and awareness raising efforts around childhood bereavement. We couldn’t be more pleased to be here and to take part in such a meaningful dialog.”

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