Public Health Preparedness - Mental Health

Disaster behavioral health is an integral part of the overall public health and medical preparedness, response, and recovery system.  It includes the many interconnected psychological, emotional, cognitive, developmental, and social influences on behavior, mental health, and substance abuse, and the effect of these influences on preparedness, response, and recovery from disasters or traumatic events. Behavioral factors directly and indirectly influence individual and community risks, health, resilience, and the success of emergency response strategies and public health directives.

During and after an emergency event, it is common for people—including response workers—in the affected region to experience distress and anxiety about safety, health, and recovery, as well as grief and loss.

Disaster behavioral health actions in the response period often focus on supportive, strengths-based basic interventions such as psychological first aid, crisis counseling, and response worker support. These interventions may be provided by behavioral health professionals, but are often also provided by paraprofessionals, other health workers, volunteers, and laypeople who have received training in basic disaster behavioral health support. As behavioral health concerns often emerge or evolve in the longer-term recovery period, recovery planning and activities must react to changing needs, which may include access to traditional behavioral health care and treatment.

Certain at-risk individuals may need functional support during a disaster response for communication, medical care, maintaining independence, supervision, or transportation. Examples of those at risk include children, senior citizens, pregnant women, people with disabilities, the economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, people with pre-existing behavioral health conditions or trauma histories, or people with limited English proficiency. Lutheran Community Services is a partner in preparedness in Crook County.


Resources

Lutheran Community Services
Oregon Health Authority – Mental Health Services
Centers for Disease Control Mental Health Resources
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