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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

About the Division for At-Risk, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience (ABC)

Vision Statement

All individuals and communities affected by public health emergencies and disasters have access to and receive the public health, medical and behavioral health services they need to promote and ensure individual and community resilience and national health security.

Mission Statement

ABC provides subject matter expertise, education, and coordination to internal and external partners to ensure that the functional needs of at-risk individuals and behavioral health issues are integrated in the public health and medical emergency preparedness, response, and recovery activities of the nation to facilitate and promote community resilience and national health security.

At-Risk Individuals

Some individuals may have greater difficulty accessing the public health and medical services they require following a disaster or emergency. At-risk individuals have needs in one or more of the following functional areas: communication, medical care, maintaining independence, supervision, and transportation. At-risk groups may include children, senior citizens, and pregnant women as well as people who have disabilities, live in institutionalized settings, are from diverse cultures, have limited English proficiency or are non-English speaking, are transportation disadvantaged, have chronic medical disorders, or have pharmacological dependency.

Behavioral Health

Disaster behavioral health is the provision of mental health, substance abuse, and stress management services to disaster survivors and responders. Following an emergency event, it is common for individuals and families, as well as disaster responders, to experience distress and anxiety about safety, health, and recovery. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies over the last several years, along with recent research on the impacts of these events, have highlighted the need for disaster behavioral health capabilities. Behavioral health professionals trained in disaster response often work in shelters, medical and psychiatric facilities, or may engage in outreach and educational activities in communities to facilitate the resiliency and recovery of survivors and responders.

Community Resilience

The vision for health security described in the National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) is built on a foundation of community resilience: the sustained ability of communities to withstand and recover from adversity. Resilient communities include healthy individuals and families with access to health care, both physical and psychological, and with the knowledge and resources to care for themselves and others in both routine and emergency situations. Enhanced resilience is considered critical to mitigating vulnerabilities, reducing negative health consequences, and rapidly restoring community functioning. ABC works to promote strategies for building individual and community resilience that are inclusive of both behavioral health and the functional needs of at-risk individuals. Such strategies will improve communities’ ability to maximize resources, meet needs, and recover from the adverse health consequences of public health emergencies and disasters at the individual and community levels.

View PDF version of the Division for At-Risk, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience (ABC) fact Sheet.

  • This page last reviewed: December 18, 2012