Disaster Mental Health

This page contains most all disaster-related links and materials available at this site. Here, you'll find mental health handouts as well as links to external disaster web sites, disaster mental health guides, and other informative materials useful in assisting disaster victims. The focus of this page is less on the most recent specific disaster, and more on generally useful information and links that may be useful in a variety of disasters.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Fragments Impact Jupiter

Some disaster victims do need additional attention from a professional therapist, but most will not. Much of the initial mental health disaster response involves two primary goals:

(1) normalizing feelings: reassuring victims that the strange and upsetting feelings they experience after a disaster (as following other traumatizing experiences) are normal -- given what happened -- and (2) helping victms find effective ways of coping with any ongoing stress.

I hope the following handouts will assist in this educational process. At least, on Earth...

The first fourteen information sheets below were collected during my previous experience in disaster mental health assistance, and from generous colleagues. Many of these handouts came to me during the Northridge California earthquake in early 1994. For this listing, I selected handouts that seem broadly useful and generic across disaster type.

As far as I know, none of the 14 internal documents in this section are under copyright. They may be used in the service of mental health disaster assistance provided authorship credit is given (where known), and no fee is charged to any recipients. For that purpose, please feel free to download any sheets that appear useful. You should be able to save or capture individual files to disk, but just how you do this depends some on your browser. Or, you can download the entire set in zipped text format. Following these internal documents, you will find additional disaster materials residing external to this site. Please follow the copyright and usage guidelines as posted on these files by their authors.

Photo: Thomas Franklin
Bergen Record

A separate section lists links to web sites focused on disasters and disaster responses, including current disasters. These sites are copyright by their authors, of course. Please also have a look at the general support information and web links on separate pages. For example, many links on the Supportive Information page, as well as several sites on the Resources page or other sections, have information particularly relevant for trauma victims and disaster workers.

Feel free to email your comments or suggestions. I would particularly appreciate hearing from anyone with additional materials to contribute to this collection, or from anyone knowing of any documents that should be removed from this site. Enjoy!

Disaster Mental Health Handouts

The following cache of 14 disaster handouts residing at this site is categorized into material for Adult Victims, Families & Child Victims, and Disaster Workers & their Families.

Two separate sections of external disaster materials follows these 14 handouts: The first, added following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon, focuses primarily on terrorist attacks. The second section of external disaster materials focuses more generally on disasters. All may be useful, since all address emotional and mental health issues commonly faced by disaster victims.

TopAdult Victims

Victim Emotional Health
Emotional health issues for victims, from the American Red Cross.
Warning Signs
Warning signs of trauma-related stress, from the American Psychological Association.
Critical Incident
Critical incident stress information sheet, from Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
Normalizing Emotions
You are not alone! description of normal emotions following a disaster, from the American Red Cross.
Building Safety
Reducing fear about building safety, by Dan Friedman, American Society of Home Inspectors.
Coping Suggestions
Coping suggestions, from Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
Steps to Take
After a disaster: Steps you can take, from Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

Families and Child Victims

Family Coping
Coping suggestions for families, from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
Helping Children after a Disaster
Child behaviors to watch and suggestions to help, by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
Helping Children Cope
Helping children cope with disaster, from FEMA and the American Red Cross.
Children's Reactions
Children's reactions to disaster; author unknown.
Talking with Children about the Bombing
Suggestions for parents or other adults about what to tell children about terrorist bombings, by Eitan Schwartz MD.

Disaster Workers and Their Families

Worker's Emotional Health
Emotional health issues for disaster workers, from the American Red Cross.
Worker Family's Emotional Health
Emotional health issues for families of disaster workers, from the American Red Cross.

TopAdditional (External) Disaster Materials for Adults, Children, and Families

Emergency Preparedness: Disaster Mental Health Resources
A collection of disaster mental health resources from the CDC, covering: coping with disaster, children & teens, and for responders.
Red Cross PDF on Specific Types of Emergencies
Information page on several specific sorts of emergencies, from the American Red Cross (and affiliated agencies).
Disease Prevention Pamphlet
Disease prevention information -- with images -- for tsunami disaster victims (in PDF format)
Disease Prevention Information
Disease prevention pamphlet -- primarily a table -- for tsunami relief workers (in PDF format).
Tsunami Psychological Help
Dr Martin Winkler's comments regarding providing psychological help to victims of the recent Tsunami disaster, with links to other resources.
Coping with Disasters
MedlinePlus: a list of news releases, divided into categories -- latest news; overviews; children, teenagers, seniors, etc.
Disaster Help for Parents and Children
The Child Advocate site's collection of links re: disaster and trauma intervention; a starting point for helping children.
Understanding & Coping with Traumatic Stress
Headington Institute's modular self-study guide covers stress & humanitarian work, PTSD, and includes a self-test.
A survivor-helping-survivor message site, not a professional mental health services site.

TopAdditional (External) Disaster Materials focused on Terrorist Attacks

Helping America Cope
A ~40 page PDF file, by Annette La Greca, focuses on coping with 911 attacks & anniverary reactions to these events.
Recovery 911: World Trade Center Trauma
Ed Schmookler's online book focuses on creating security amidst terror; guidelines for coping with PTSD from this attack.
Coping with Sept. 11 Attacks -- For Sexual Abuse Survivors & People with Mental Health Problems
Brief article by Kali Munro explores parallels between attacks and child sexual abuse; gives suggestions for how to cope.
Terrorism: Trauma, Grief, and Recovery
Kathleen Nader's article, written after the 11 September attacks, addresses psychological first aid, recognizing vulnerability, etc.

TopDisaster Mental Health Guides

This section of links focuses on disaster mental health (DMH) guides that may be useful for emergency workers working with individuals in disaster situations. DMH guides focus on mental health issues pertinent in disaster situations, but may also be useful in working with any individual in crisis.

A separate section of links collects PTSD treatment guidelines (for PTSD, acute stress, and dissociative disorders). While the PTSD treatment guides may be of primary interest to clinicians working with traumatic stress disorders, they can be helpful for some individuals in disaster areas as well. Therefore, the PTSD treatment guides page is the first link in this section.

PTSD Treatment Guides
Collected treatment guidelines, for Acute Stress Disorder, PTSD & Dissociation - may be relevant in disaster mental health situations.
Trauma Treatment Manual (English)
Ed Schmookler's excellent treatment manual, initially written for Bosnia, applies to most disasters.
School Disaster: Planning & Initial Interventions
Article by Kathi Nader and Robert Pynoos covers interventions for children, parents and staff.
Eye of the Storm: Disaster Mental Health
Extensive information about disaster mental health, written by John D. Weaver.
Key Concepts of Disaster Mental Health
Full text of the first chapter from a disaster response handbook, written by Diane Myers.
Victims of Disasters: Helping People Recover
Dr Parson's article on helping affected people recover from acute distress to healing and integration following a disaster.

TopDisaster Links

This section contains many links to disaster-related sites. Links concerning general disaster response are organized by scope or focus. Other links providing information about finding current or recent disasters follow them. [Please check the Site Map to locate additional links available at this site.]

General Disaster Sites

Many organizations offer relief information and assistance to victims of trauma in disasters. Here are some links to the information available, separated into subsections by their predominant focus or scope (e.g., global, US, and foreign).

  • Global (Planetary) Disaster Monitoring and Relief
    Space Weather
    Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment, including sun spots & asteroids.
    Global Warming Web Site
    EPA's global warming site offers information about science and impacts, quick facts, and links to similar sites.
    El NiOo
    This site monitors the El NiOo-Southern Oscillation, with monthly ocean temperature forecasts.
    NOAA's El NiOo Page
    NOAA's website on El NiOo includes basic information, current forecasts, and extensive data.
  • Disaster Agencies and Associations in the United States
    American Red Cross
    The home page of the American Red Cross.
    FEMA's home page
    The home page of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    Medical Reserve Corps
    US medical teams (some include mental health professionals) serve local communities & improve emergency preparedness.
    Pacific Disaster Center
    The PDC provides applied information for disaster management in Asia nad the Pacific region.
    Natural Hazards Center Home Page
    Information about human adaptation to disasters, from the Natural Hazards Center at U. Colorado, Boulder.
    Disaster Mental Health International
    Bruce Young's DMHI offers Emergency Mental Health Preparedness and Response Training Programs.
    K-9 Disaster Relief
    K-9 Mental Health Therapy provides comfort for victims and victim families, in conjunction with other trained professionals.
    ICES Disaster Resources
    Illinois Cooperative Extension Service excellent site includes a disaster guide and preparedness information.
  • TopInternational Disaster Agencies or Sites
    International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
    Home page of the International Federation, with many links to European and other sites outside the US.
    International Committee of the Red Cross
    Home page of the International Committee of the Red Cross, with its own unique set of links.
    Relief Web
    ReliefWeb is a UN-sponsored project to serve the information needs of the humanitarian relief community.
    The Aberfan Disaster
    Historical and political analyses of the 1966 man-made disaster at Aberfan, in South Wales.
    Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency
    CDERA's web site lists interesting links, as well as membership information and a calendar of events.
  • Preparation & Disaster Planning
    From Dept. of Homeland Security, this website encourages us to assemble a supply kit, a family plan, and to be informed.
    Preparing for the Psychological Consequences of Terrorism
    Online book (in PDF format) presents a public health strategy preparing for psychological consequences of terrorist attacks.
    The Sphere Handbook
    The Sphere (online) Handbook, a project of WHO, aims to improve the quality of assistance given to people affected by disasters.
    ALNAP: Active Learning Network for Accountability & Performance
    ALNAP works to improve learning and quality across the Humanitarian Sector: site has an Evaluative Reports Database.
    Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery
    Web collection of plans for various kinds of disasters, such as earthquakes or tsunamis, and related information.
    Emergency Preparedness Information Center
    This Seattle commercial page gives detailed information about preparing for a disaster, and offers related products.
  • TopMedical & Mental Health Education
    Sphere Handbook: Health Services
    Chapter 4 of the online Sphere Handbook sets minimum standards, indicators, & guidance for providing health services in disasters.
    Green Cross Foundation
    Home page of trauma therapists who volunteer to assist disaster victims and those who support them.
    Disaster Mental Health Institute
    DMHI at University of South Dakota offers training in disaster mental health topics.
  • Emergency Services
    An Evaluation of Humour in Emergency Work
    Article identifies humor as a coping strategy contributing to emergency workers' adjustment to difficult situations.
    Victoria State Emergency Service
    Website of a large Australian emergency service organization, in the state of Victoria
  • Business Continuity after a Disaster
    Disaster Recovery Community Forum
    Disaster Recovery Community Forum offers interactive information for those with responsibility for disaster recovery planning.
    Disaster Recovery Plan Template
    MS-Word template for business continuity following disaster; Sarbanes-Oxley & HIPAA compliant.
    Disaster Resource Guide
    Online information includes aritcles and other resources to facilitate business continuity after a disaster.
    Disaster Recovery Journal
    Articles, products, subscription information, and links to other sites specializing in disaster contingency planning.
    This web site is focused on news and views relating to risk assessment and risk management.
    Global Continuity
    "A global portal for business continuity management" -- extensive site has news and services.
    Rothstein Catalog on Disaster Recovery
    Online catalog of videos and other products of particular interest to the disaster recovery industry.
    PASE Inc.
    PASE offers products, training and consulting for post-disaster business continuity.

TopCurrent Disasters: Natural or Man-Made

A collection of links to updated information about current disaster(s), followed by sites concentrating on specific recent disasters. These links are updated periodically. Links in this section focus on breaking news and current disasters:

  • News Media Sites
    Google News
    Google compiles information on breaking news events, using ~4500 continuously updated news sources.
    CNN Interactive News
    Current, up-to-the-minute news coverage of breaking stories. Updated frequently.
    ABC News Online
    Current "live" news available online, including hourly updates from ABC News Radio.
    National Public Radio
    NPR website; NPR has won every major award in journalism for news and cultural programming in America.
    New York Times on the Web
    The NYTimes online edition includes a local search engine.
    Washington Post
    The Washington Post's online edition.
    Los Angeles Times
    The LA Times newspaper online: search engine allows easy access to all current information.
    The London Times
    The Times of London newspaper website -- authoritative, searchable and current information.
    The Australian
    The Australian, a major national newspaper in Australia.
    The British Broadcasting Corporation website.
    Reuters news service website.
    The Hindu
    Online edition of India's national newspaper.
    Independent Media Center
    Indymedia is a collective of independent media organizations & journalists, offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage.
    Al Jazeera
    English-language website of the Al Jazeera Television & Middle East News.
    Palestine News Agency
    Perspective of the Palestine News Agency (in English) on current events affecting the middle east.
    NewsMax.Com: America's News Page
    A current collection of topical news stories from various sources.
  • Current Disaster Sites
    Internet Disaster Information Center
    This site lists current and archived disaster-related information by category: earthquakes, fires, terrorism, etc.
    NOAA National Weather Srvice
    US National Weather Service site shows live images and active warnings of weather disasters.
    Aviation Safety Network
    Detailed and current information regarding aviation safety, air crashes, fatal accidents, etc.
    National Transportation Safety Board
    The NTSB website may contain information about aviation or other transportation disasters.
    AirSafe's useful information for travelers will include current information about recent air crashes.
    Emergency Email & Wireless Network
    Provides secure and expedient notification of emergencies -- locally to internationally.

TopSpecific Natural Disasters

A changing collection of sites with information about current or recent natural disaster(s). These links are updated periodically.

TopSpecific Man-Made Disasters

A changing collection of sites with information about current or recent man-made disaster(s). These links are updated periodically.