I Don't Need to Talk I blogged about the evidence for and against critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) for preventing PTSD. Back then I suggested that CISD should not be mandatory for people who experience trauma for two reasons: most people don't develop PTSD after trauma and get better on their own even without therapy, and there was increasing evidence to suggest that CISD may make some people worse.
Today a story came across my Twitter feed (thanks USMCShrink!) about the medical response to the Japanese tsunami. Apparently psychological debriefing was strongly discouraged by Japanese mental health authorities for the reasons I just mentioned.
I think this is the leading indicator that attitudes are changing toward the role of psychiatry in disaster response preparedness. It also may mean that we might have to change how we approach the mental health care of veterans. I've talked to a lot of vets who were required to go through post-deployment debriefing. Did it help? Did it hurt? Are we doing the right thing? While treatment should be offered to people who really do develop disorders, in this case preventive intervention may not be so preventive.