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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Disaster Behavioral Health

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 for Planners

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.

Resources for Responders & Healthcare Workers

Primary care providers, emergency responders, early care and school age providers and educators and others delivering behavioral health support in the affected community may benefit from training, technical assistance, support, and referral points for disaster behavioral health services.

Resources for Public Health Policymakers and Leaders

ASPR provides subject matter expertise, coordination and consultation support to ensure that behavioral health needs are identified and addressed within the public health and medical response efforts via provision of training, guidance, and educational and policy documents.

Guidance for Specific Populations

New & Noteworthy Partner Resources

COVID-19 Behavioral Health Resources

ASPR/TRACIE Behavioral Health Topic Collections

  • This page last reviewed: September 22, 2022