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PTSD: National Center for PTSD


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Resources for Providers: Responding to Disasters and Mass Violence



This section is for Researchers, Providers, & Helpers

This section is for Researchers, Providers, and Helpers

Resources for Providers: Responding to Disaster and Mass Violence

Following disaster or mass violence, initial intervention involves reducing primary distress and offering practical assistance. The resources below will help first responders and mental health providers learn skills in psychological first aid and appropriate response to such events.

For resources to share with clients, see our Resources for Survivors and the Public Following Disaster and Mass Violence page.

Key Information on Traumatic Stress Reactions

Response and Treatment

  • Early Mental Health Intervention for Disasters
    The aim of all disaster mental health management should be the humane, competent and compassionate care of all affected. The goal should be to prevent adverse health outcomes and to enhance the well-being of individuals and communities.
  • Helping Survivors: Long-Term Treatment Interventions Following Disaster and Mass Violence
    Immediately following a disaster or mass violence event, provision of practical support and psychosocial interventions are likely to be sufficient for the majority of those who are exhibiting mild to moderate distress or trouble functioning. In the months following a disaster, a smaller proportion of the population who exhibit more severe or protracted reactions may benefit from more intensive interventions.

Manuals, Tools and Tips

  • The Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide
    PFA is an evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster to reduce initial distress and to foster short and long-term adaptive functioning. The guide, created jointly with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, is available in multiple languages and includes handouts for survivors. Online training and a YouTube PFA Channel are available.
  • PFA Mobile App
    Following disasters or emergencies, the PFA Mobile app can assist responders who provide Psychological First Aid (PFA) to adults, families, and children. Download from: iTunes (iOS)Link will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. | Google Play (Android)Link will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.
  • Psychological First Aid Manual Adaptations and VersionsLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.
    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network website offers translations of the PFA manual in Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Norwegian. This webpage also includes a number of adaptations of PFA for different settings and provider types, including: PFA for Schools; PFA for community religious professionals; PFA for Medical Reserve Corps personnel; and PFA for youth and families experiencing homelessness.
  • Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) Guide
    SPR aims to help survivors gain skills to manage distress and cope with post-disaster stress and adversity. SPR is intended to follow Psychological First Aid (PFA) in the weeks and months following disaster and mass violence events. The guide was created jointly with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network as well as others involved in disaster response; training information is available.

Helping Specific Populations

  • Impact of Disaster on Older Adults
    Following disaster, older adults may be at lesser risk for mental health problems because coping skills can develop over a lifetime. However, with chronological aging comes health decline and other risk that may leave older adults vulnerable. Read about risk and protective factors of aging following trauma and learn some strategies for working with older adults in the aftermath of disaster.
  • Terrorist Attacks and Children
    When terrorist attacks occur, children may witness or learn about these events by watching TV, talking with people at school, or hearing adults discuss the events. There are factors related to increased stress symptoms in children following terrorism and ways for parents and providers to help children cope.
  • Disaster Rescue and Response Workers
    Emergency and rescue workers who respond to disaster and mass violence events face physical danger, the potential loss of their coworkers and friends, and devastating effects on their communities. In addition, they may also be at risk for behavioral and emotional readjustment problems. Learn about risks and protective factors for distress among responders, and ways to manage work-related stress.

Links to Key Resources

  • PTSD Consultation Program Logo   PTSD Consultation Program
    The PTSD Consultation Program, which supports providers who are treating Veterans, is temporarily able to provide consultation to providers whose clients (Veteran or non-Veteran) were impacted by recent natural disasters or mass violence events. Please email or call 866-948-7880 for free consultation on resources, assessment, treatment, referral options, or any other questions related to helping your clients with the psychological effects of these events.
  • Give an HourLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.
    This organization works with mental health providers who volunteer their services to provide care and support to those affected by natural disasters or man-made traumas. Give an Hour also provides free mental health care to active duty, National Guard and Reserve Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. Take action to give help.
  • Disaster Relief: Web Resource Links
    This page includes links to organizations helpful in the aftermath of disaster, including: Red Cross, FEMA, and more.
Date this content was last updated is at the bottom of the page.

The National Center for PTSD does not provide direct clinical care, individual referrals or benefits information.

PTSD Information Voice Mail:
(802) 296-6300
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Also see: VA Mental Health