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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Resources for Survivors and the Public Following Disaster and Mass Violence

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Resources for Survivors and the Public Following Disaster and Mass Violence

Sudden traumatic events of disaster or mass violence can lead to injury, death, and psychological distress. Events in the media can also trigger reminders to past events. This page links to information to help survivors and those affected deal with stresses that can come from sudden trauma.

Key Information

What to Expect in the Wake of Disaster | en Español
Disasters can cause a range of reactions in direct victims, emergency personnel, as well as in the public at large. There are strategies you can use to cope in the short- and long-term, and effective treatments that can help.

What to Expect in the Wake of Mass Violence | en Español
Mass violence events can cause a range of reactions in direct victims, emergency personnel, as well as in the public at large. There are strategies you can use to cope in the short and long-term, and effective treatments that can help.

What to Expect in the Wake of Wildfires | en Español
Wildfires have caused millions of acres to burn, leaving death, injury, loss of homes and community destruction in their wake. Such events can also cause financial hardship and ongoing stressors as people work to put their lives back together.

Help for Survivors in the Aftermath of Disaster and Mass Violence
Disasters may cause a wide range of reactions in survivors. Most who are affected by disaster will recover on their own with some time and help. After a disaster, you are likely to do better if you feel - or are helped to feel - safe, connected to others, and calm. Survivors who are still having trouble weeks after the disaster may need further help.

Self-Care After Disasters
Disasters may cause a number of stress reactions in those who experience or respond to the event. Learn about steps you can take to manage stress after a disaster.

Tools to Help with Symptoms Following Trauma

PTSD Coach Mobile App
This mobile app designed to help with self-care for those with PTSD can also be helpful in the aftermath of a disaster. Use this app to track your level of distress and learn skills to cope with symptoms that commonly occur after trauma.
Download free App: 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. | French Canadian iTunes (iOS).Link will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.

PTSD Coach Online
This online resource offers 17 tools that can help you manage trauma reminders, sleep issues and other troubling symptoms following a disaster. PTSD Coach Online is available to anyone with access to the Internet.

PTSD Family Coach Mobile App
This mobile app is for family members of those living with someone who has PTSD. It offers tools that may be helpful in the aftermath of a disaster. Use this app to take care of yourself, strengthen your relationship with a loved one who experienced a disaster, and help your loved one get necessary care.
Download free App: 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.

Printable Handouts

Handouts for Disaster Survivors
These handouts, from the Psychological First Aid Manual, cover topics helpful for those who have experienced a disaster. Handouts include:

More Disaster Related Information

Common Reactions After Trauma
After going through a trauma, survivors often say that their first feeling is relief to be alive. This may be followed by stress, fear, and anger. Trauma survivors may also find they are unable to stop thinking about what happened. Many survivors will show a high level of arousal, which causes them to react strongly to sounds and sights around them.

Effects of Disasters: Risk and Resilience Factors
A number of factors make it more likely that someone will have more severe or longer- lasting stress reactions after disasters. The amount of exposure to the disaster is highly related to risk of future mental health problems. At highest risk are those who go through the disaster themselves. Next are those in close contact with victims. At lower risk of lasting impact are those who only had indirect exposure.

Trauma Reminders: Triggers
People respond to traumatic events in a number of ways, such as feelings of concern, anger, fear, or helplessness. Research shows that people who have been through trauma, loss, or hardship in the past may be even more likely than others to be affected by new, potentially traumatic events.

Community Violence: Effects on Children and Teens
Describes how neighborhood violence affects young people, and gives resources that can help.

Media Coverage of Traumatic Events
Learn how media (news, movies, etc.) can affect your stress level or harm children, and read about how to reduce bad effects.

Links to Key Resources

  • National Suicide Prevention LifelineLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.
    This national network of local crisis centers provides free and confidential emotional support to those in distress. Calls are answered 24/7: 1-800-273-8255
  • Veterans Crisis Line
    This service connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders. Receive free, confidential support 24/7: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 or text 838255.
  • Give an HourLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.
    Give an Hour 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.
  • National Child Traumatic Stress NetworkLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.
    This Center works to improve access to care, treatment, and services for children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events.

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Get help for PTSD

If you need help right away:

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PTSD Information Voice Mail:
(802) 296-6300
ncptsd@va.gov
Also see: VA Mental Health