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 Resource Document: Mental Health and Climate Change
- APA Clinical Practice Guidelines: Acute Stress and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- APA Clinical Practice Guidelines: Major Depressive Disorder
- APA Guidance Document: Cultivating Preparedness for Future Public Health Emergencies (.pdf)
APA Online Learning Center
- Climate Change and Disaster Mental Health
- Practical Applications of Disaster Mental Health – Lessons Learned from the U.S. Military
- PIP: Clinical Module for the Care of Patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Climate Psychiatry: What Every Psychiatrist Should Know
- Liability and Ethical Considerations in Emergencies
- Disaster Psychiatry: Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment
- Assessing and Treating Youth Exposed to Traumatic Stress
- Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders: A Handbook for Clinicians
- Principles and Techniques of Trauma-Centered Psychotherapy
- The Role of Companion Animals in the Treatment of Mental Disorders
American Journal of Psychiatry
Subscribe to the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) for full access to articles like:
- Mental Health and Social Networks After Disaster
- COVID-19 and Stress-Related Disorders
- Persistent Dissociation and Its Neural Correlates in Predicting Outcomes After Trauma Exposure
American Journal of Psychotherapy
Subscribe to the American Journal of Psychotherapy for full access to articles like:
- Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Approaches for First Responders: From Research to Clinical Practice
- MOSAIC: A New Pain-Free Psychotherapy for Psychological Trauma
- Psychodynamic Intervention in Crisis
Subscribe to the FOCUS: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry for full access to articles like:
- Community Interventions to Promote Mental Health and Social Equity
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: A Systematic Review
- Optimizing Empathy: Physician Self-Care as a Crucial Component of Trauma-Informed Treatment
- Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders Among Children and Adolescents
- Beyond the DSM-5 Diagnoses: A Cross-Cultural Approach to Assessing Trauma Reactions
Subscribe to the Psychiatric Services for full access to articles like:
- The Tōhoku Theater Project in Postdisaster Japan: An Exemplar for Addressing Community Mental Health in the Context of Disaster
- Climate Change and Mental Health: Implications for the Psychiatric Workforce
- Responding to a Major Disaster: The Trauma Assessment and Support Clinic in Beirut
- Forecast: Increasing Mental Health Consequences From Atlantic Hurricanes Throughout the 21st Century
Other Organizations and Resources
- Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) – Easy to access Disaster Fact Sheets tailored to specific types of disasters and populations. Disaster mental health resources for responders, providers, families, and community leaders are provided by this national, academic-based organization dedicated to advancing trauma-informed knowledge, leadership, and methodologies. Options available in multiple languages.
- SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center – Resources to help providers plan for and respond to behavioral health needs after a disaster, including crisis counseling.
- National Child & Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) created to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and communities throughout the United States.
- National Center for PTSD: Assessment Measures Information on tools and best practices for the proper assessment of trauma and PTSD through validated measures.
Psychological First Aid and Disaster Training
- CSTS Psychological First Aid
- NCTSN Psychological First Aid Online – This interactive course from the NCTSN, a national collaborative network of academic institutes and governmental and nongovernmental organizations, puts the participant in the role of a provider in a post-disaster scene.
- NCTSN Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide (2nd Edition) – This guide provides an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of disaster and terrorism.
- Red Cross Psychological First Aid Online Course
- Red Cross Disaster Training – The American Red Cross provides disaster training for mental health professionals, including online training modules.
- 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.