Abstract & Bio

Psychological Health and Safety in Emergency Management: Building a Stronger Future with Lessons and Practices Learned from the Pandemic

David Hutton, Director -  Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA)
Dr. Theresa Newlove, R.Psych, Director of Psychological Health and Safety - PHSA

This presentation discusses the relevance and importance of investing in psychological health and safety practices in emergency management including the volunteer sector. It is now widely acknowledged that team management, problem-solving and decision-making may be either enhanced or diminished by organizational culture and psychosocial factors. Psychological health and resiliency speaks to the importance of an organizational approach that provides both managers and teams the tools and resources to effectively manage the pressures of responding to emergencies and disasters. While it is important that mental health and wellness is actively supported in a meaningful way, it is also critical that such factors as positive leadership, engagement and communication are considered in the same breath. The presentation provides an overview of lessons learned from the pandemic and other emergencies, including practical ways that emergency management can use psychological health and safety practices to strengthen the organization of responding teams while also protecting the psychological health and wellbeing of responders.

David Hutton holds a doctorate degree from the University of Manitoba and has been involved in emergency management and humanitarian work over the past 20 years. This includes managing Emergency Social Services at the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response (Public Health Agency of Canada) and ten years with the United Nations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Dave is currently a Director with Health Emergency Management BC (Provincial Health Services Authority) where he oversees emergency planning within PHSA as well as the Provincial Disaster Psychosocial Team. Dave is also an instructor at Royal Roads University.

Dr. Theresa Newlove is currently the Director for Psychological Health and Safety for the Provincial Health Authority of BC and an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Psychology at UBC.  She has spent most of her career providing psychological services in the hospital setting and over the past 5 years has transitioned her focus to supporting staff health and wellbeing and promoting a culture of psychological safety within the workplace.

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