To access SAMHSA's Disaster Distress Helpline, please click here.
NASMHPD is proud to be affiliated with the Multi-state Disaster Behavioral Health Consortium (roster available here), a nationwide collaboration between State Mental Health Authorities (SMHAs) to foster dialogue and cooperation in the area of disaster and mental health services. The mission of the Consortium is to ensure that State Mental Health Authorities are represented in disaster and emergency response planning and preparedness activities at the national level as key partners in all Federal public health and medical preparedness and response activities. The Consortium promotes the equitable progression of policies, curricula and practices to support individuals and communities impacted by emergencies, disasters and other events that overwhelm local resources and potentially create traumatic reactions. The Consortium provides States with a forum for a collective and unified voice in national decision making toward shaping of the nation's emergency behavioral health preparedness and response system.
The Consortium is building upon previous Federal and Congressional reports, recommendations, and the guidelines set forth by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster and Emergency Act to further develop a national behavioral health capability within the National Response Framework. In collaboration with its federal and state partners, the Consortium advocates for awareness of the psychosocial impact of disasters and other emergencies and the importance of offering behavioral health interventions and outreach services for both individuals and communities.
The Consortium's goals include the promotion of:
- State and local behavioral health representation in national disaster public policy decision-making with Federal partner agencies.
- Dissemination and sharing of resources to advance consistent response and recovery planning processes.
- Standardized training based on core curricula that will prepare a cadre of qualified, trained professional counselors and paraprofessional outreach workers to respond to the psychosocial needs of impacted individuals and communities.
- Technical assistance for all-hazards emergency response planning that include provisions for providing both behavioral health and substance abuse services.
- Integration of appropriate disaster behavioral health interventions and services into all phases of emergency management.
- Collaboration with federal, state, and local disaster response agencies to work to prevent, respond to, recover from and mitigate the psychosocial effects of emergencies, disasters, and other incidents.
The Consortium evolved from disaster mental health forums held in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maryland between 2006-2009. These events were organized to promote sharing of resources, networking and collaboration. The consensus of those disaster mental health professionals attending the forums was that as a result of developing, managing and administering crisis counseling programs over a period of significant time, State Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinators had more hands-on experience in disaster behavioral health programs than any other State, University, or voluntary agency. As a group, they possessed a wide range of in-depth real-world expertise, knowledge and skill in developing and delivering the range of crisis counseling services for individuals and communities impacted by disasters.
It was determined that the primary goal of the Consortium would be to harness the cumulative talent and expertise of the State Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinators and their partners to promote a continually coordinative and collaborative emergency response process at all levels ranging from local to state to Federal. Today the Consortium provides a collective voice and vehicle to ensure that states are actively involved in emerging disaster planning and response issues, initiatives and policies on the national scene.