Children and Youth

This installment of the SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS) focuses on disaster behavioral health resources for children and youth, their families, and child-serving professionals. Children and youth are a population with unique needs and vulnerabilities during all stages of a disaster. Many children may not have the skills or knowledge of how to prepare for or stay safe during disasters. During the aftermath of a disaster, the reactions of children and youth will be vastly different from those of adults, and they will differ from one age group to another.

The following resources can be used by parents and other caregivers and school staff to teach children about disasters and how to prepare before they occur. Some can be used by children and youth for individual and family preparedness and to understand and cope with their disaster reactions. Resources are also included that school personnel can use to evaluate and improve their organization’s capacity for dealing with crisis events.

Use the menu bar at left to narrow the results by disaster type, behavioral health issue or condition, treatment topic, and more.

Related Resources

Displaying 36 total results.
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After the storm: A guide to help children cope with the psychological effects of a hurricane - Dippity, Inc.
Multiple audiences can use this activity book, which contains information, activities, and strategies to help children cope with their reactions and feelings resulting from a hurricane and its aftermath. The material is designed for use with children ages 6-12, but much of the information and many of its activities can be adapted for use with older and younger children. [Authors: La Greca, A. M., Sevin, S. W., & Sevin, E. L.]

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
AACAP is, according to its website, a "national professional medical association dedicated to treating and improving the quality of life for children, adolescents, and families" affected by mental, behavioral, or developmental disorders. At its website, AACAP provides several fact sheets on talking to children about disasters.

American School Counselor Association - American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
According to its website, ASCA "supports school counselors' efforts to help students focus on academic, personal/social, and career development so they achieve success in school and are prepared to lead fulfilling lives as responsible members of society. ASCA provides professional development, publications, and other resources, as well as research and advocacy, to more than 29,000 professional school counselors around the globe."

Autism and emergency preparedness: Tips and information for emergency shelter staff and trainers - Debbaudt Legacy Productions
This fact sheet provides tips and options on how to safely and effectively interact with individuals with autism, their family members, and care providers. Click on the link labeled "Disaster Preparedness (PDF)" to access the file. Included is a definition of autism, possible characteristics of those with autism, methods of communication, and tips for how best to handle autistic persons in shelters. [Author: Debbaudt, D.]

Autism emergency contact form - Debbaudt Legacy Productions
The contact form includes information that is necessary and helpful for first responders and health care professionals working with people with autism during emergencies. Click on the link in the right sidebar of the web page to access the form. It includes, among other things, places to provide the name of the person with autism; the person's method of communication, if the method is nonverbal; and current prescriptions.

Can Do and the storm: A story about new beginnings - Can Do Duck Publishing
This coloring book was written for children affected by hurricanes. It tells the story of Can Do the duck and his friends who have to leave their pond because of a hurricane. It is designed to help children to think about and share their feelings regarding frightening events they have experienced.

Children needing extra help: Guidelines for mental health providers - National Child Traumatic Stress Network (DO NOT USE; USE ENTRY WITH ACRONYM)
This document provides information regarding what should be considered when treating a child, such as the child's developmental level, anger management skills, etc.

Child Study Center, New York University Langone Medical Center - New York University, School of Medicine, Child Study Center
At its website, the Child Study Center at New York University identifies its mission as "to improve the treatment of child psychiatric disorders by eliminating the stigma of being or having a child with a psychiatric disorder, conducting research and disseminating scientific findings to improve the practices of professionals serving children, and influencing child-related public policy."

Culturally competent crisis response: Information for school psychologists and crisis teams - National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
This fact sheet provides information on the importance of cultural competence for school psychologists and disaster response crisis teams. It briefly explains how to develop culturally competent plans, the roles of a crisis team, how and when to disseminate information to communities following a disaster, and tips on how to provide culturally and linguistically competent services following a disaster.

Disaster preparedness for children with special nutrition needs - Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington
This document addresses the extra steps that families of children with special nutritional needs must take to prepare for disasters. It includes a full checklist to help families prepare for disasters when a child with special nutritional needs is involved. [Authors: Owen, R. J., & Feucht, S.]

Emergency preparedness - plan and prepare - American Red Cross
The American Red Cross has many disaster preparedness and response publications designed for children and adolescents. Tips and resources on how to prepare a home and family for disasters as well as information regarding disaster preparedness for students and schools can be located within this website.

Facts for families: Talking to children about terrorism and war - American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
This tip sheet provides valuable information on how to listen to children, answer their questions, and provide them support when discussing terrorism and war. It gives parents the skills to help their children feel more secure and to understand the world in which they live.

Healing after trauma skills (H.A.T.S.): A manual for professionals, teachers, and families working with children after trauma and disasters - National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
This activity manual is designed for use primarily with children in prekindergarten through elementary school and early middle school grades who have experienced trauma resulting from natural or human-caused disasters. The manual is intended for use by mental health professionals and teachers working with children in small groups or on an individual basis. [Author: Gurwitch, R. H.]

Helping young children and families cope with trauma - Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Harris Center for Infant Mental Health
This document informs parents of common reactions or symptoms children may have following a traumatic event. It tells parents how to listen to their children and how to help them feel safe. This document addresses self-care and support for parents as well. This document is also available in Spanish at [Author: Osofsky, J. D.]

How to assess: Distress - Traumatic stress in ill or injured children - National Child Traumatic Stress Network (DO NOT USE; USE ENTRY WITH ACRONYM)
This pocket card provides information on how to help children experiencing distress in a hospital setting. It includes examples of questions to ask and also includes tips for helping the families of injured or ill children.

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Last Updated: 08/16/2018