The basic tenants of Disaster Mental Health begin with the central principle that the target population primarily consists of normal people who have been through an abnormally stressful disaster (or other emergency situation). Victims generally will not stop functioning, but they will react in fairly predictable ways (with some differences due to age and maturity). By using various crisis intervention techniques, outreach services, and psychoeducational approaches, the victims and relief workers can be quickly triaged and briefly counselled (or referred for formal services), so as to return them to pre-disaster levels of functioning as quickly as possible.
1. Identify key Disaster Mental Health (DMH) concepts including the origins of DMH, typical “normal” victim and relief worker reactions, and the timeframes/phases of recovery.
2. Understand typical reactions of adults and children that may result from exposure to disasters or other traumatic life events.
3. Learn the psychological risks of helping others (and the resulting transfer of trauma), while living and working in an increasingly troubled world.
4. Respect the critical need for helpers to practice self-care and peer support.