Ethical Challenges in the Provision of Mental Health Services for Children and Families During Disasters
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PURPOSE OF THE REVIEW: As mental health professionals assist individuals and communities affected by disaster, they are likely to encounter ethical issues. We conducted a review of academic and grey literature to identify ethical issues associated with the provision of mental health care during disasters, with particular attention to children and families. RECENT FINDINGS: We identified nine categories of ethical challenge: ensuring competent care; protecting confidentiality and privacy; obtaining informed consent and respecting autonomy; providing culturally sensitive care; avoiding harm; allocating limited resources; maintaining neutrality and avoiding bias; addressing issues of liability and employer responsibilities; and conducting research ethically. The organization and provision of mental health services during disasters presents ethical challenges for care providers-as well as for communities, coordinators, and policymakers. Mental health professionals need to navigate this ethical terrain in order to provide needed care to individuals and communities affected by crisis.
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