The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has
updated its resources
on substance use disorders and disasters. The resources
include brochures and tip sheets to help disaster survivors avoid
increasing alcohol and drug use, a mobile app to guide health
care practitioners in medication-assisted treatment, screening
tools, fact sheets and manuals on helping people with addictions.
This issue of the Supplemental Research Bulletin focuses on
research highlights related to traumatic stress and suicide,
including suicide rates, suicidal ideation, and suicide plans and
attempts, in relation to disasters.
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an evidence-informed approach
that is built on the concept of human resilience. PFA aims to
reduce stress symptoms and assist in a healthy recovery following
a traumatic event, natural disaster, public health emergency, or
even a personal crisis.
The purpose of the Family Information Center (FIC) Planning Guide
for Healthcare Entities is to support healthcare partners in the
development of a detailed plan to provide information, support
services and reunification assistance to family members of
Development of the Family Information Center Planning Guide for
Healthcare Entities was led by the Los Angeles County Emergency
Medical Services Agency and developed in coordination with a
multi-disciplinary Project Oversight Group. Project Oversight
Group members provided strategic guidance regarding guide
development, validation, and implementation.
In a disaster, it’s essential that behavioral health responders
have the resources they need—when and where they need them. The
SAMHSA Disaster App makes it easy to provide quality support to
survivors. Users can navigate pre-deployment preparation,
on-the-ground assistance, post-deployment resources, and more—at
the touch of a button from the home screen. Users also can share
resources, like tips for helping survivors cope, and find local
behavioral health services. And, self-care support for responders
is available at all stages of deployment.
It is important to help survivors recognize the normalcy of most
stress reactions to disaster. Mild to moderate stress
reactions in the emergency and early post-impact phases of
disaster are highly prevalent because survivors (and their
families, community members and rescue workers) accurately
recognize the grave danger in disaster (Young et al., 1998).
Although stress reactions may seem ‘extreme’, and cause distress,
they generally do not become chronic problems. Most people
recover fully from even moderate stress reactions within 6 to 16
months (Baum & Fleming, 1993; Green et al., 1994; La Greca et
al., 1996; Steinglass & Gerrity, 1990). (From Disaster Mental
Health Response Handbook, NSW Health, 2000, p. 27.)
This easy-to-use pocket guide focuses on general principles of
stress management and offers simple, practical strategies that
can be incorporated into the daily routine of crisis response
professionals. It also provides a concise orientation to the
signs and symptoms of stress.
The ongoing threat of both natural and human-caused disasters
makes it imperative that we support and encourage the brave men
and women who prepare for and respond to these events—our crisis
These professionals include first responders, public health
workers, construction workers, transportation workers, utilities
workers, volunteers, and a multitude of others.
While every situation is unique, this document provides some
basic tools that can inspire and spread optimism and point the
way to effective stress management.
The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is the nation’s first
hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling. The
toll-free helpline operates 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.
The helpline is free, confidential and multilingual.
This crisis support service is available to US residents who are
experiencing psychological distress resulting from man-made or
natural disasters via telephone at 1-800-985-5990 or by SMS (text
‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746).
Callers are connected to trained and caring professionals from
the closest crisis counseling center in the network. The helpline
staff provides confidential counseling, referrals and other
needed support services.
In the aftermath of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, people
will need mental health support as much as medical support.
It’s crucial to help medical professionals, first responders,
family members, and victims both administer or receive the proper
psychological first aid.
This mental health awareness toolkit provides first
responders—whether they are disaster response workers, parents,
caregivers, or teachers—with specific tips for responding
effectively to people in the wake of a disaster.
The information is meant to help alleviate painful emotions and
promote hope and healing.
In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, almost everyone will
find themselves unable to stop thinking about what happened.
These are called intrusion or reexperiencing symptoms. They will
also exhibit high levels of arousal. For most, fear, anxiety,
re-experiencing, efforts to avoid reminders, and arousal
symptoms, if present, will gradually decrease over time. The
expected psychological outcome is recovery, not psychopathology.
What are common stress reactions in the wake of disaster?
The effect of a disaster or traumatic event goes far beyond its
immediate devastation. Just as it takes time to reconstruct
damaged buildings, it takes time to grieve and rebuild our lives.
Life may not return to normal for months, or even years,
following a disaster or traumatic event. There may be changes in
living conditions that cause changes in day- to-day
leading to strains in relationships, changes in expectations, and
shifts in responsibilities.
Novel and practical quality improvement tool for hospitals and
clinics to use in planning for and responding to the
psychological consequences of catastrophic events that creates a
surge of psychological casualties presenting for health care.
This paper describes the development of the tool, presents data
on facility preparedness from 31 hospitals and clinics in Los
Angeles County, and discusses how the tool can be used as a
benchmark for targeting improvement. Meredith, L., Zazzali J.,
Shields, S., Eisenman, D., and Alsabagh, H. (March-April 2010).
When you work with people during and after a disaster, you are
working with peole who may be having reactions of confusion,
fear, hopelessness, sleeplessness, anxiety, grief, shock, guild,
shame and loss of confidence.
Gives organizational and individual tips for stress prevention
and management for emergency response workers and public safety
workers. Describes normal reactions to a disaster, signs of the
need for stress management, and ways to handle stress.
The effects of a disaster, terrorist attack, or other public
health emergency can be long-lasting, and the resulting trauma
can reverberate even with those not directly affected by the
disaster. This page provides general strategies for promoting
mental health and resilience that were developed by various
organizations based on experiences in prior disasters
REPEAT is designed to help hospitals and clinics assess their
capacity to deal with the surge of psychological causalities
resulting from large-scale emergencies, (including terrorist
incidents, natural disasters, and other public health
emergencies). Key members of your facility’s disaster response
team (e.g., disaster response coordinators, department directors)
should complete this assessment periodically to identify which
preparedness and response activities have been implemented.
Results can be used to evaluate disaster planning and to identify
areas to target for improving the facility’s response capability.
Successful disaster mental health activities will depend on the
operational area and local capabilities. Many of the strategies
can be deployed prior to an incident, as part of efforts to