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Disaster Mental Health

Psychiatrists provide valuable medical experience and expertise for preparing and responding to disasters and mass traumas. It is important to understand how psychiatric care can be integrated into disaster response systems in order to effectively provide medical assessment, treatment and consultation. Proper education and training is critical for responding to disasters and is crucial to ensuring successful interventions. Psychiatrists should become familiar with their local and regional disaster preparedness and response systems and coordinate with agencies and organizations appropriately.

APA Position Statements

Search and view official APA Position Statements in the Policy Finder, including:

  • Position Statement on Disaster Preparedness and Response for Older Americans
  • Position Statement on Mental Health and Climate Change

APA Documents and Guidelines

APA Online Learning Center

APA Books

APA Journals

American Journal of Psychiatry

Subscribe to the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) for full access to articles like:

American Journal of Psychotherapy

Subscribe to the American Journal of Psychotherapy for full access to articles like:


Subscribe to the FOCUS: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry for full access to articles like:

Psychiatric Services

Subscribe to the Psychiatric Services for full access to articles like:

Other Organizations and Resources

Psychological First Aid and Disaster Training

Volunteer Opportunities

  • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) – National VOAD promotes cooperation, communication, coordination and collaboration, and fosters more effective delivery of services to communities affected by disaster. Volunteer or donate to get involved.
  • The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) – A national network of more than 200,000 volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. MRC volunteers step up to keep their family, friends, and neighbors safe and healthy.
  • National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) – NDMS Disaster Medical Assistance Teams provide high-quality rapid-response medical care when public health and medical emergencies overwhelm state, local, tribal, or territorial resources. In the aftermath of natural and technological disasters, acts of terrorism, and during disease outbreaks, DMAT members are on location protecting health and saving lives.  DMAT members also serve behind-the-scenes to provide medical support at national special security events like the inauguration.
  • American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Teams – Psychiatrists licensed to practice in any U.S. state or territory may be eligible to participate as a Disaster Mental Health worker or other kind of volunteer.
  • FEMA Community Emergency Response Teams – The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) organizes a program for educating and training community volunteers to support emergency responses.
  • International Humanitarian Opportunities – Psychiatrists seeking opportunities to participate in humanitarian efforts abroad can review available information and resources.
  • Vibrant Emotional Health – Organizes and trains volunteer psychiatrists to provide mental health services in the aftermath of disaster.

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