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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


The Link between Mental and Behavioral Health and National Health Security: 3 Key Planning Considerations

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 5/10/2017 4:28:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Our physical and psychological well-being are inseparable. Yet people often think only of physical health when they think about national health security. The connection with mental and behavioral health may not jump to the forefront. Yet, much of the work in this field and the needs of a community during and after a disaster demonstrate the importance of mental and behavioral health to our nation’s health security. Making sure these services are available during and after emergencies can help communities recover more quickly.

Community health resilience is the cornerstone of national health security. Public health and healthcare systems can use their assets to improve a community’s mental, behavioral, and social health to withstand, adapt to, and recover from disasters and incidents that have negative health effects.

These issues are so important that the National Health Security Strategy recommends that communities consider them in preparing for disasters by taking three important steps:

  1. Build and Coordinate. Increase the preparedness and response capabilities as well as the surge capacity of mental health and behavioral health facilities within the community. From emergency medical service and critical care to trauma care, counseling, and even dental health, all components of a region’s public health, healthcare, and emergency management systems must collaborate to be ready to meet the needs of the community in the wake of a disaster event.
  2. Ensure Availability and Accessibility. It is imperative that public health, healthcare, mental and behavioral health, and social service organizations understand the needs of all the people they serve and effectively coordinate to meet those needs before, during, and after an incident. As more residents and organizations become health resilient, whole-community resilience will thrive.
  3. Reach Those At Risk. Incorporating at-risk individuals—people in your community or organization who may have access and functional needs during disaster— into your preparedness planning activities is essential.

In the years since the strategy was first published, ASPR has made resources, such as plans, tools, and templates, available to guide mental health and behavioral health professionals in addressing these areas. To access education and training materials for survivors and emergency responders, visit ASPR TRACIE, the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange.

ASPR’s Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Community Resilience also has an array of factsheets, educational materials, and tools available, many specifically related to disaster behavioral health. In addition, HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Behavioral Health Resources web page includes Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series Collections addressing a wide range of issues targeted for specific audiences and needs.

By integrating national health security into ongoing mental and behavioral health services, your organization can promote holistic health and well-being, as well as champion volunteers and connect communities. These are the building blocks of a nation with a robust culture of health resilience. For more information, visit


Public Health- Why wait for a problem when you can prevent it first.

Preventive medicine is all the rage but I rarely see it in action by the institutes that have the best way of teaching it to our community. The schools that teach our children from preschool to high school have our children Monday through Friday from 8-5 or there about. During those school years and hours it seems as though the curriculum could focus on human health, mind and body first and foremost. Next the social structures in there communities: Family, work, communities, and than further out to the states, counties and world. It would benefit the whole person and extend out to the communities if a person graduated from high school with a clear knowledge of how their body and mind works and what they can do to keep it healthy. Frances Wheeler RN,BSN,PHN,MICN
5/11/2017 8:54:33 AM

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