Building Bridges: Mental Health Consumers and Representatives of the Disaster Response Community in Dialogue [open pdf - 212KB]
"Natural and manmade disasters have heightened awareness of the critical need to support effective mental health responses. Disasters disrupt stability and structure by altering normal economic and social activities both of individuals and of whole communities. They have had, and will continue to have, serious mental health consequences: bringing a sense of loss, grief, depression, and change to those impacted. The focus of the mental health response is generally twofold. First, mental health assessment and crisis counseling need to be readily available to all residents and evacuees impacted by disasters. Second, those individuals with serious mental illnesses need appropriate services and supports for their ongoing recovery. In recent years, self-help and peer support, through and Federal and State government funding, have become part of the array of services in response to disasters. Such services may include outreach, individual and family crisis counseling, group counseling, public education, community support groups, referral, home visits, transportation services, and warm lines. In concert with the growing self-help and mutual aid models nationally within the arena of mental health services, mental health consumers have initiated peer support services in response to the Northridge earthquake, the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9-11 tragedy, and recent hurricane disasters. Although there has been a concerted mental health response to these disasters, there has been little opportunity for mental health consumers and representatives of the disaster response community to discuss what is needed to promote recovery in such situations. A face-to-face dialogue between representatives of the disaster response community and mental health consumers provides an opportunity to bridge the gap. Developing trust and building mutual understanding and respect between mental health consumers and representatives (providers, administrators, policymakers, and others) of the disaster response community are necessary to create effective alliances. Establishing and maintaining productive communication increases the likelihood of beneficial relationships that support recovery models for those at risk in, and consumers impacted by, disasters."
Report Inventory No. SMA07-4250; HHS Pub. No. 4250; Health and Human Services Publication No. 4250
United States. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: http://www.samhsa.gov/