Category Archives: IPH News

FAMU Professor Accompanies Tallahassee First Responders to South Florida Building Collapse Site
09 Jul

FAMU Professor Accompanies Tallahassee First Responders to South Florida Building Collapse Site

Florida A&M University (FAMU) Institute of Public Health (IPH) faculty member Kellie O’Dare, Ph.D., traveled to South Florida this week with Tallahassee first responders who are part of the search and rescue efforts at the Champlain Towers South collapse in Miami.

The men and women from the Tallahassee Fire Department USAR Task Force 7 are among the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams from across the state who have deployed and are currently searching for survivors in the Surfside collapse site.

Kellie O’Dare with first responders.

Cynthia Harris, Ph.D., associate dean for public health and director of the Institute of Public Health, said O’Dare is contributing to the “dire need for addressing the mental health stressors that adversely impact our first responders.”

“She answered the local state, national and international public health call to immediately respond to the needs of firefighters in the wake of this tragedy,” Harris added.

O’Dare, founder and director of the 2nd Alarm Project, has been deployed to the scene of the building collapse in Miami to help support the wellness needs of first responders both before, during, and after the deployment.

“Disaster response deployments require a high level of mental and physical effort from emergency service professionals,” said O’Dare, an IPH assistant professor in health and policy management. “The physical, social, and psychological demands of disaster response work can become overwhelming, and without mitigation, contribute to longer-term behavioral health and substance use issues.”

Founded in 2019, the 2nd Alarm Project is a multi-faceted, evidence-based outreach and intervention approach to address the behavioral health and substance use needs of first responders in the Florida Panhandle. The project originated out of a request from Tallahassee Fire Chief Jerome Gaines for assistance to address the mental health needs of firefighters and other first responders, in the wake of Hurricane Michael and other major events.

“The science demonstrates that the mental health needs of first responders look a little different if they are going to be effective,” said O’Dare, who approaches the issue from the perspective of a trained social worker who grew up in a family of firefighters and is married to a firefighter.

The 2nd Alarm Project is funded primarily through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. O’Dare will oversee and provide direct support to USAR Task Force 7 members and support peer team members on scene from Task Force 7.

O’Dare will also provide support to the International Association of Fire Fighters peer support team working 24/7 on-site to provide peer-based services and resources to first responders.

As part of the deployment, O’Dare will work with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Florida Firefighters Safety & Health Collaborative on a state plan for psychological first aid of first responders both during the deployment and upon demobilization of the USAR teams.

“Seeing suffering and devastation of a disaster, along with repeated exposure to grievously injured and deceased persons, as well as recovering human remains, can increase feelings of cynicism and hopelessness among responders,” O’Dare said. “The mental wellness and resiliency of our first responders have become a priority and recognizing the need for psychological education, access to competent resources, and follow up to those members exposed to these potentially traumatic events.”

Peer support among disaster responders can improve mission readiness and preserve the force during deployment, as well as mitigate longer-term consequences of disaster response work, including PTSD and other mental health concerns, O’Dare explained.

“Peer support is a vital component of mitigating issues among first responders,” she said.

This article originally appeared on FAMUFOWARD on July 1st, 2021

FAMU Campus To Host Black Men’s Mental Health Training Session
09 Jul

FAMU Campus To Host Black Men’s Mental Health Training Session

Tallahassee, Fla. – Florida A&M University faculty member Fran Close, Ph.D., will lead a session to equip barbers, coaches, and mentors with tools to help Black men cope with mental health issues.

The Black Men’s Mental Health Training for Black barbers, coaches, trainers, and mentors who engage with Black men and boys will be held 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 11 in the FAMU Grand Ballroom, 1925 S. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. The session is being hosted by the Mental Health Council of the Big Bend (MHCBB) in collaboration with the City of Tallahassee, Black Men’s Health, and the FAMU Student Health Services.

“We want barbers, coaches, mentors, and advisers to have tools they can use when they are interacting with Black men and boys in our community,” said Close, a professor of Behavioral Science and Health Education in the College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health.

The training is designed to equip those in trusted positions who, unofficially, serve as counselors and therapists for Black men and youth. Licensed mental health professionals will provide suicide prevention instruction and certification as well as give culturally relevant presentations on mental wellness tailored for black men.

“We need to make sure our Black men have the resources they need and feel comfortable about asking for help,” Close said. Many Black men see themselves as protectors and overlook their own self-care, she added. “A lot of our Black men don’t think about taking care of themselves both physically and mentally.”

In addition to mental health training, FAMU Student Health Services staff will discuss vaccine advocacy and hesitancy. City of Tallahassee staff will share information on their TEAM Unit, Individual Mental Health Assistance and Neighborhood Resilience Hubs.

MHCBB is a volunteer entity comprised of mental health subject matter experts, and related stakeholders, dedicated specifically to employing a data-driven approach to assessing mental health services in Florida’s Big Bend region and recommending strategies for improvement. The MHCBB is leading this charge and anticipates approximately 50 participants. The free training will include complimentary lunch and a $25 gift card for each attendee. There will also be a raffle for a new smart TV.

For more information about this event, contact Fran Close, Ph.D., at 850-545-5808, or


This article originally appeared on FAMUFOWARD on July 8th, 2021