VA clinical psychologist Dr. Diane Castillo was a speaker at the World Health Organization Expert Group Meeting on Mental Well-being, Disability and Humanitarian Action in Manila, Philippines, in January. Castillo is the treatment core center director at VA’s VISN 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans based in Waco, Texas. She was asked to speak at the World Health Organization (WHO) meeting about alleviating PTSD after disasters and emergencies.
“The VA has been the leader in understanding post traumatic stress disorder within the United States, but we’re also recognized worldwide as being able to offer information to the world on what kinds of treatments are effective and available and how these treatments can speak to disaster relief,” Castillo explained. “My invitation was to be able to provide that information on evidence-based therapies for PTSD and how individuals dealing with disasters throughout the world could benefit from that.”
Some 15 representatives from academic institutions, United Nations’ agencies, governmental and non-governmental organizations were invited in their individual capacity to participate in the meeting. The National Center for Neurology and Psychiatry in Japan, the University of Tokyo and the Tohoku University, in close collaboration with the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific and the United Nations University, organized meeting.
According to the WHO, it is estimated globally that one out of four people will experience a mental health condition during their lifetime. In disaster and humanitarian settings, affected populations frequently experience immense mental and psychosocial suffering. Although most people are capable of coping with life’s challenges, mental health and psychosocial support need to be made available for those who require it to support their recovery.
Editor’s note: The video above was produced by Temple, Texas, VA Medical Center videographers Stefan Green and Dean Clark. VISN 17 Public Affairs Officer Kathryn Gifford interviewed Dr. Castillo upon her return from the WHO conference.