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date: 23 February 2024

Disaster Mental Healthlocked

Disaster Mental Healthlocked

  • Leia Y. Saltzman, Leia Y. SaltzmanTulane University
  • Regardt J. FerreiraRegardt J. FerreiraTulane University & Dept. of Social Work, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  •  and Tonya C. HanselTonya C. HanselTulane University


Disaster mental health refers to the provision of psychological and substance use services in environments coping with and recovering from disasters. In addition, disaster mental health refers to the study of the psychological and emotional impacts of disasters on individuals, families, and communities. Disasters—including climate-related, human-caused, biological, technological, and infrastructure failure—have documented impacts on the mental health of survivors. Disasters do not equitably impact individuals, families, and communities but rather may exacerbate existing disparities, worsening health and mental health outcomes and limiting access to mental health care. As societal and environmental factors continue to evolve, communities that previously were not impacted by disasters have begun to feel the effects. Simultaneously, communities that have previously been impacted by disasters are now facing recurring or compounding disaster experiences—for example, repeated wildfires, hurricanes, or flooding. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has also increased concerns about protracted and lengthy disaster experiences and the impact these events may have on new and/or worsening mental health symptoms. Social workers have a unique perspective that can contribute to the practice of disaster mental health with individuals, families and communities—from the provision of clinical services to policy and preparedness, to research. The system approach coupled with a strengthsbased perspective which is the hallmark of social work is imperative when working with individuals, families, and communities impacted by disasters and those who face mental health challenges in the wake of these experiences.


  • Mental and Behavioral Health

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