Disaster Apps

This installment of the SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS) focuses on disaster behavioral health apps for mental health and substance use professionals, disaster responders, and consumers to help them plan for, respond to, and recover from disasters or traumatic events. Professionals are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to treat and serve patients and survivors. Mobile apps and tools allow professionals and other responders to have disaster behavioral health resources at their fingertips and to document and track their interactions more easily and effectively. Consumers can use mobile apps to help prepare their families for disasters, communicate during disasters, and help with the recovery that follows.

The apps in this installment are available for free and can be used on most iOS and Android devices. There are apps available for both behavioral health professionals and consumers covering a variety of topics, such as preparedness, disaster alerts, Psychological First Aid, coping strategies, and responder self-care.

It is important to note that conditions during and after disasters like power and network outages may make apps and their data inaccessible. All information on smartphones and tablets may be unavailable in a power outage if there is no place to charge devices. It is a good idea to write down information you may need in a disaster that you would otherwise access through an app or another feature on your mobile device, such as a list of important phone numbers.

While many of the apps in this installment are designed to help people after disasters, they are not intended to replace professional behavioral health support following disasters. People experiencing disaster-related distress can get immediate support from the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline by calling 800-985-5990 or texting TalkWithUs to 66746.

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Breathe2Relax - U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Health Agency, DHA Connected Health (DOD, DHA, DHA Connected Health)
The Breathe2Relax app was originally designed for the military community but is beneficial to anyone to lower stress and reduce anxiety. The app trains users on the “belly breathing” technique, which has proven benefits to overall mental health.

CDC mobile app - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)
The CDC mobile app gives users 24/7 access to timely, vital health information wherever they go, including information on disease outbreaks and preparedness and response for disasters and other emergencies. It provides automatic updates with important public health information and a variety of types of content such as stories, videos, podcasts, journals, and blogs.

Disaster alert - Pacific Disaster Center
This highly rated app provides a global, multi-hazard monitoring and alert system for users. The app allows users to quickly view hazards around the globe or to locate hazards in a specific area. Users can get general information about location of hazards or tap on hazard icons to get more in-depth information.

Disaster detector - Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Science Education Center
In this app designed for children in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, participants help cities prepare for four types of natural disasters (earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and volcanoes). They are provided with extensive information about the cities and measurements indicating hazard levels, and they are given opportunities to take preparedness actions such as building or repairing shelters or reinforcing roofs. The app is available online as well as on iOS and Android devices.

FEMA mobile app - U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS, FEMA)
The FEMA app provides users with features such as severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and information to stay safe, maps of disaster resources, online resources for applying for disaster assistance, and safety tips and preparedness reminders.

Help kids cope - National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
The Help Kids Cope app can help families talk about disasters before they happen and learn what to do before, during, and after 10 different disaster types. The app also helps parents learn how to best support their children through sheltering in place, evacuations, and healing after the disaster is over. The app can also be useful for teachers and counselors, as well as for emergency preparedness professionals.

Huddle - Huddle Labs, Inc.
Huddle is a peer-to-peer support app for iOS and Android devices through which users can find and establish groups on a range of behavioral health topics, including depression, anxiety, addiction recovery, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and trauma. People can post videos to groups in which they talk about their experiences and respond to videos posted by others. The app features a tool to disguise faces in the videos if people prefer. Groups are not moderated or facilitated.

MATx mobile app by SAMHSA - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This mobile app is designed to help health care practitioners provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders. Compatible with iOS and Android devices, MATx features steps to take to become a certified buprenorphine prescriber, information about medications used to treat opioid use disorder, and treatment locators.

Meeting Guide - Meeting Guide
This iOS and Android app can be used to find nearby meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, a peer support organization offering meetings across the country and around the world to help people who have a current or past problem with drinking. Meetings may help people with alcoholism or people in recovery from alcoholism to cope with distress in many situations, including after a disaster. The app currently includes meetings from many, but not all, locations in the United States and Canada. Users are encouraged to consult local resources to confirm that meetings are being held prior to attending.

Mobile app: CPT coach - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD (VA, PTSD)
This mobile app is designed to support cognitive processing therapy (CPT), one of the most effective treatments for people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The app is meant to be downloaded by patients and used while they are working with therapists trained in CPT. The app features tracking of PTSD symptoms over time to evaluate progress, homework assignments and worksheets, and reminders for therapy sessions.

Mobile App: PTSD Coach - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD (VA, PTSD)
The PTSD Coach app can be used by individuals who believe they may be suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as their families. It provides users with resources they can trust, including PTSD treatments that work. Features also include tools for tracking symptoms, tools for handling stress, and direct links to support and help.

Mobile apps - American Red Cross
The American Red Cross offers a variety of disaster preparedness apps on topics such as floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and an all-inclusive emergency app that monitors 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The apps provide alerts, as well as a check-in system to let your loved ones know you are safe. There is also an app for children to teach them preparedness for real-life emergencies.

Monster guard - American Red Cross
Available for iOS and Android devices, this app is a game that teaches children ages 7–11 about preparedness for disasters and other emergencies. Children take on the roles of different monsters in navigating through various scenarios. Through the app, children can learn about putting together a family emergency kit, preparing in other ways for natural disasters, and coping with stress.

Outbreaks near me - Health Map
The Outbreaks Near Me app provides users with real-time disease outbreak information. Users can search and browse outbreak reports on an interactive map and register for automatic alerts when there is an outbreak occurring in their area. HealthMap is a group of scientists and software developers at Boston Children's Hospital who offer the Outbreaks Near Me app and a website providing online information about disease outbreaks and public health issues and threats around the world.

PFA mobile - National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
This app can assist disaster responders in providing Psychological First Aid (PFA) to adults, families, and children following emergencies or disasters. The app allows responders to review the eight core PFA actions and match PFA interventions to the reactions of survivors they are serving. It also provides tips for applying PFA in the field and helps track and assess the needs of the survivor.

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Last Updated: 06/04/2018