Resources for State and Local Governments
Emergencies can have a significant impact on individuals’ mental and behavioral health. State and local health departments should include mental health management in each phase of a disaster (pre-event, response, recovery, and evaluation).
- Disaster Distress Helpline: CALL or TEXT 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).
- Deaf/Hard of Hearing ASL users can call the DDH hotline via their videophone-enabled device or click on “ASL Now” at samhsa.gov/ddh to connect directly with DDH crisis counselors fluent in ASL.
- Understand demographic and social characteristics. Identify the language needs, cultural considerations, and reading levels in your area.
- Build relationships with public health officials, community stakeholders, private and public medical providers, and school officials.
- Identify policy and resources for staff support.
- Find behavioral health treatment facilities in your state.
- Work with the National Association of Mental Health Program Directors.
Assess these community characteristics:
- Culture, religion, ethnicity
- Shared values
- Social resources
- At-risk populations
- Language spoken
- Average level of education
- Access to healthcare
- Local non-government and community-based organizations
- Establish the role of partners, like community-based organizations, in mental health services during an emergency.
- Identify and train mental health professionals and response staff to provide counseling, triage, outreach, and education during a crisis or emergency.
- Plan for interpreter and translation services.
- Train provider groups, including public health nurses, school health professionals, and community support workers in psychosocial consequences of terrorism and disasters.
- Develop a risk communication plan and templates.
- Develop a triage system to connect victims with emergency mental health services when needed.
- First meet basic safety and security needs of target populations.
- Provide Psychological First Aid at response sites.
- Use crisis and emergency risk communication principles in all messaging.
- Continue to monitor the mental health needs of victims and responders.
- Provide access to counselors in all appropriate languages.
- Distribute educational information appropriate to the event.
- Use triage system to connect victims in acute distress with professional services.
- Provide coping resources for responders and their families.
- Continue to monitor mental health needs in the affected population.
- Train social and community leaders on how to help their groups cope.
- Give the community opportunities to come together.
- Promote availability of coping resources.
- Anticipate and plan to deal with trauma reminders (such as anniversaries of the event date, or the broadcast of similar incidents on the news).
- Resources for Leaders to Help Communities Cope
- Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) program
- Skills for Psychological Recovery– an intervention designed to follow Psychological First Aid in the weeks and months following disasters and mass violence events. (SAMHSA).
- Resources for School Personnel (National Child Traumatic Stress Network- NCTSN)