Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
Emergency responders know that disasters and emergencies can cause great destruction to infrastructure and damage people’s physical health. It can be challenging for responders to anticipate the behavioral health consequences of disasters for victims and for the responders themselves. This is because the emotional effects of disaster may not be seen in the tangible ways physical injuries might be. Effective coping with disaster has a lot to do with a responder’s individual resilience.
Individual resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that promote personal wellbeing and mental health. It refers to a person’s ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity. People can learn coping skills to adapt to stress and maintain or return to a state of mental health wellbeing.
A disaster can impair resilience, even for experienced responders, due to stress, traumatic exposure, distressing psychological reactions, and disrupted social networks. Feelings of grief, sadness, and a range of other emotions are common after traumatic events. Resilient individuals, however, are able to work through the emotions and effects of stress and painful events and rebuild their lives.
When responders have the tools and support that they need to take care of themselves and manage stress, the team as a whole will be more effective. Resilient responders are better able to fulfill the requirements of the response.
Unaddressed responder stress can have a negative effect on others. Stress can lead to poor decisions and increase mistakes that might jeopardize the success of the mission and the safety of others.
Resilient responders are better able to:
Resilience develops as individuals learn better strategies to manage stress and life’s challenges. Building resilience involves tapping into personal strengths and the support of family, colleagues, and friends. Responders can foster individual resilience during pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment phases. Here are some examples:
During deployment/response phase:
During post-deployment phase:
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