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Disaster Behavioral Health

Nurse comforting patient 

Behavioral health describes the continuum of one’s emotional, cognitive, and relational wellbeing and is a key factor in the ways that people act. Following a disaster or emergency event, it is common for individuals and families, as well as disaster responders, to experience distress and anxiety related to safety, health, well-being and recovery. Behavioral health is an integral part of the public health and medical emergency management system, and should be fully integrated into preparedness, response, and recovery activities.

Disaster behavioral health is the provision of mental health, substance abuse, and stress management services to disaster survivors and responders. Federal disaster behavioral health also addresses the behavioral health care infrastructure, individual and community resilience, and risk communication and messaging.

Resources & Guidance

Disaster behavioral health actions during the preparedness phase primarily focus on planning, training, and exercising public health capabilities that mitigate the behavioral health impacts of disaster. Plans that strengthen pre-existing systems, build on the daily delivery of health and behavioral health care, and address reimbursement requirements are essential to effective disaster response.

ASPR provides guidance and training as needed and/or as requested on disaster behavioral health preparedness, response, and recovery planning for at-risk individuals; behavioral health force protection; and community resilience.

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