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 disaster patients.
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 response professionals.
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 activities,
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 improve resiliency.