Commissioner Betts Attends National Emergency Response Summit

Thursday, June 29, 2006 | 07:00pm


NASHVILLE — Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner (TDMHDD) Virginia Trotter Betts lead a team of Tennessee representatives to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMSHA) National Summit to address the nation’s disaster behavioral health preparedness and response building on the lessons learned from the 2005 hurricanes.

The national summit “The Spirit of Recovery: All-Hazards Behavioral Health Preparedness and Response—Building on the Lessons of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma” involved states, territories, and the District of Columbia in the planning process and was held May 22-24, 2006 in New Orleans.

Participants interacted with their peers to review lessons from the three major hurricanes of 2005, identified opportunities for consolidation of the ongoing response to behavioral health issues resulting from these events, and coordinated all-hazards preparedness efforts for future disasters. The Tennessee team included representatives from mental health, alcohol and drug abuse services, emergency medical services, public health, emergency management, and community services agencies.

“Seeing New Orleans for the first time since Katrina, I now have a better understanding of the enormity of the situation, but it is still hard to comprehend that such devastation could happen to one of America’s greatest cities,” stated Commissioner Betts. “The Tennessee team can learn much from past disaster experiences to ensure our citizens that the mistakes made with the 2005 hurricanes will not be repeated here. Additionally, we will continue increasing Tennessee’s preparedness to assist the needs of future evacuees should that be necessary.”

TDMHDD, in collaboration with community hospitals and mental health centers, provided disaster-related behavioral health services to individuals evacuating to Tennessee from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and is currently providing crisis counseling services to citizens impacted by the recent tornadoes in middle and west Tennessee.

For more information, please contact TDMHDD’s Office of Public Information and Education at (615) 253-4812 or visit

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