Other Disaster Behavioral Health Response Resources

The resources below include a few of the many excellent websites outside the Department’s control which support providers of disaster behavioral health services.  This list is not intended to be exhaustive and inclusion or exclusion on this list is not intended as an evaluation of a particular resource.

The Disaster Distress Helpline

The Helpline serves those experiencing signs of distress as a result of a disaster. Trained counselors are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  All calls are free and confidential. Dial 1-800-985-5990.

The Helpline also provides texting services for persons coping with disaster-related distress. Texting offers a unique level of anonymity allowing people to reach out for help when they may not feel comfortable making a live call. It also gives counselors the ability to respond in an accepted, non-stigmatized method of communication, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Just like calls, all texts are confidential.

  • English-speaking users enroll by texting ‘talkwithus’ to 66746.
  • Spanish-speaking users enroll by texting ‘hablanos’ to 66746.

The user then receives two auto replies thanking them for signing up, providing instructions and a second text from the service provider with a disclaimer about standard text messaging rates.  That way if someone inadvertently entered the number or wishes to stop their participation, they can terminate at no charge.  

Florida Crisis Consortium

The Florida Crisis Consortium, which includes disaster behavioral health experts from around the state, was formed in May 2005 to develop Florida’s Disaster Behavioral Health Response Plan, as part of the ESF-8 annex to the Florida Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP).  The Domestic Security Oversight Council approved the plan on November 16, 2006.  The intent of the disaster behavioral health response plan is to mitigate the adverse effects of disaster-related trauma by promoting and restoring psychological well-being and daily life functioning in impacted individuals, responders, and communities.

The Florida Crisis Consortium:

  • Develops and maintains the plan and operational protocols
  • Recruits, trains and credentials regional disaster behavioral health assessment teams
  • Recruits regional consultants to work with communities to develop local disaster behavioral health capacity
  • Conducts exercises and reviews after action reports
  • Develops and maintains disaster behavioral health public information materials

The FCC welcomes involvement from members of the behavioral health and preparedness communities.  To join them, send an e-mail to DBH@flhealth.gov.

SAMHSA Resources 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides tip sheets and guidance on managing disaster-related behavioral health stress.  The resources below provide age-appropriate information and support designed for disaster responders, emergency planners, behavioral health professionals, educators, parents and the general public.

SAMHSA Disaster Resources

Psychological First Aid 

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism to reduce initial distress, and to foster short and long-term adaptive functioning.  It is for use by first responders, incident command systems, primary and emergency health care providers, school crisis response teams, faith-based organizations, disaster relief organizations, Community Emergency Response Teams, Medical Reserve Corps, and the Citizens Corps in diverse settings.

A number of excellent PFA trainings are available through many leading academic and response organizations.  The link below is to one such resource, PFA Online.  PFA Online is a free 6-hour web-based curriculum developed and implemented by the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Terrorism and Disaster Program, directed by Melissa Brymer, PhD, Psy.D.  PFA Online was made possible through funding from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  

PFA Online

Mental Health First Aid 

National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare provides training in Mental Health First Aid, a public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.  It is offered in the form of an interactive 12-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments.  The resource below provides an overview of Mental Health First Aid, news and updates, and information on becoming an instructor and finding a course near you.  

Mental Health First Aid