Lessons from Two Decades of Disaster Response: IDMH at SUNY New Paltz will host 17th annual conference, Sept. 29 & 30

The Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH) at SUNY New Paltz will reflect on 20 years of emergency management training, preparation and direct action at “From 9/11 to COVID-19: Lessons from Two Decades of Disaster Response,” a virtual conference on Sept. 29 & 30, 2021.

Since its founding soon after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the IDMH has served as a critical resource in New York State and beyond, providing front-line responders, clinical practitioners and disaster relief volunteers with access to information on best practices in the field of disaster mental health.

Registration for the 17th annual IDMH conference is now available at this link.

There are options for registration with and without Continuing Education credit opportunities, and discounts available for New Paltz alumni. The conference is also free for all New York state and municipal employees.

The Division of Student Affairs is providing additional funding from SUNY’s Student Mental Health and Wellness expansion grant, enabling New Paltz faculty, staff and students to attend this conference as well.


From 9/11 to COVID-19: Program and Speakers

This IDMH conference brings together a roster of expert presenters from across the country to review how much we’ve learned about incorporating mental health needs into emergency response, and to look ahead to where we can – and must – go from here.

The opening address will be given by W. Craig Fugate, who served as President Barack Obama’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator from May 2009 to January 2017. Fugate led FEMA through multiple record-breaking disaster years and oversaw the federal government’s response to major events such as the Joplin and Moore tornadoes, Hurricanes Sandy and Matthew, and the 2016 Louisiana flooding.

Also providing remarks will be Antonio Delgado, U.S. Representative for New York’s 19th congressional district; James Halpern, Emeritus Professor of Psychology & Counseling and the IDMH’s Founding Director; Kelly McKinney, Assistant Vice President of Emergency Management & Enterprise Resilience at NYU Langone Health; Brandon Hamber, John Hume & Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at the International Conflict Research Institute at Ulster University in Northern Ireland; and Mary Tramontin, Clinical Psychologist with the U.S. Department of Defense; among many others.

The full list of speakers and their bios is available at this link.

Among the topics to be discussed during this two-day conference are sessions on the evolution of the practice of disaster mental health over the past 20 years; on the needs of frontline workers throughout the pandemic; and the need for leadership and change management under rapidly evolving circumstances.

Nationally renowned mental health clinicians will tackle topics including complex grief, supporting children and families through crises, treating trauma in ethnic populations, and addressing vicarious trauma among responders.

A final session will consider the future of race and mental health in the United States as we look toward the next wave of disaster mental health needs in an increasingly complex world.


“From 9/11 to COVID-19: Lessons from Two Decades of Disaster Response,” the 17th annual conference of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz, will be presented virtually using cutting-edge event presentation technology from BeaconLive.

More information about the conference, including the full schedule, speaker bios and registration info, is available at this link.