Impact Lives

MPH 654 Psychology and Sociology of Disasters


Get in touch with the emotional effects of disaster.

Format: Online
Duration: 8 weeks

Communities impacted by disaster have a potential for an increase in short-term and long-term stress-related effects on people's emotional states. MPH 654 Psychology and Sociology of Disasters examines the immediate and long-term effects that natural and human-made disasters have on survivors, their communities and first responders, and methods to assist survivors in their recovery.

Evidence suggests that early intervention following disasters decreases the severity of stress reactions and the likelihood of developing long-term pathological disorders. In this course, you will analyze and discuss the various mental health services available during response and recovery phases of disaster.

You'll work within a team to analyze a state-level disaster mental health plan, which will give you the opportunity to apply your learning as you interact with classmates and share ideas. You'll also monitor a live Twitter feed to observe how information travels through social media.

Interactive and timely, this course uses multimedia, class participation, and interaction with health care professionals to enhance learning and open your eyes to the sensitivity and complexity of the sociological and psychological effects of disaster.

What You'll Learn in MPH 654

This course explores disaster stressors, stress reactions and ways to mitigate the harmful effects of both phenomena. It investigates factors that make some disasters more stressful than others. It shows that disaster victims have their own idiosyncratic adaptive abilities when it comes to resiliency, and often have differing experiences in terms of the type, the intensity and the length of the "dose" of stress they experience.

As we discuss disaster mental health recovery, we will explore social cognitive theory, which outlines the interactions between the person, environment and behavior. You'll learn how social support systems provide individuals with the assistance needed in order to have a loving, caring and multi-faceted relationship. You'll observe how disasters affect various groups, including women, the disabled and those suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

To gain field experience, you'll interview a person in a public health, emergency management, disaster mental health or hospital emergency management planning position. A five-minute video on a selected assignment will also be required.

Course Topics

Throughout this course, weekly topics may include but are not limited to:

  • The Experience of Disaster
  • Psychopathology
  • Vulnerability and Resilience
  • Special Groups: Women, Children, Older Adults
  • Special Groups: Disabilities and Marginalized Populations
  • Health Service Interventions and Disasters
  • Natural Disaster Case Studies and Future of Emergency Management

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of MPH 654 Psychology and Sociology of Disasters, you will be able to:

  • Identify cognitive, behavioral and emotional reactions of severe stress from disaster.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of psychopathology after disasters.
  • Understand the long-term effects of natural and human-made disasters on survivors.
  • Understand how disaster mental health impacts special needs populations.
  • Develop an analysis that covers the readiness, response and recovery operations of a mental health response to a disaster.
  • Have knowledge of the anxiety disorders, physical health problems and depression in the wake of disasters.

Request More Information

To learn more about the curriculum of the online Master of Public Health curriculum from Benedictine University, including Psychology and Sociology of Disasters, call (866) 295-3104 to speak with a program manager or request more information.