The role of mental health professionals in disaster response

Whenever there is a disaster of any magnitude, mental health professionals often are mobilized to help. To an outside observer, it would be difficult to tell the mental health professional apart from the other volunteers who are also offering water or blankets. But there are some unique roles of mental health professionals in disaster response.

According to professional guidelines for disaster responsemental health professionals in disaster settingsv are probably NOT best employed in disaster settings in the following capacities:

Rather, because you as a mental health professional are uniquely trained in helping people cope with stress and strong emotions, you are able to help disaster survivors and public safety workers understand how common what they’re feeling is, whether it’s anger, sadness or other strong emotions, as an initial response to disaster-related stress. Here are some general principles about your disaster-related roles as a mental health professional:

Web Links

This is an article titled “Roles of Psychiatrists on Multidisciplinary Mental Health Disaster Teams” by the American Psychiatric Association.
This report by the National Association of Social Workers highlights research on types of disasters and their impacts on mental health.