Online Disaster Behavioral Health Trainings

This installment of the SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS) focuses on online disaster behavioral health training opportunities available to people interested in expanding knowledge and skills pertaining to psychological disaster response. An increase in the number of natural and human-caused disasters has made it more important than ever for communities to be prepared for these events. The individuals who serve these communities play an important role in helping communities prepare for and recover from disasters and build resilience. The following trainings are appropriate for emergency managers, public health workers, community health workers, crisis counselors, social workers and other behavioral health clinicians, first responders, volunteers, students, or any other people serving their community and interested in disaster recovery topics.

The trainings in this installment cover a range of topics, including crisis intervention, Psychological First Aid, preparedness and response, resilience-building, and psychological responses to disasters. The trainings listed are free to the public; however, they may require you to register with a training website in order to take them. Some of the trainings also offer continuing education unit credits.

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Addressing disaster and emergency stress beyond first responders: Implications for individuals, families, and the workplace - Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
This training covers sources of stress for disaster workers other than first responders, including staff of federal agencies, state and local public health agencies, utilities, social services, repair and cleanup contractors, and voluntary organizations. The training categorizes and describes stressors; discusses signs of stress and their effects on individuals and families; and presents strategies for individuals, families, and workplaces for managing stress and fostering resilience.

Bio-psycho-social responses to disaster - University of North Carolina, Gillings School of Global Public Health
This 45-minute course focuses on providing an understanding of the biological, psychological, cognitive, social, and spiritual responses to stress as a consequence of disasters. Objectives include learning about the biological responses to threat and dangers and understanding the effects of disasters on individuals and communities.

Building workforce resilience through the practice of Psychological First Aid – a course for supervisors and leaders - National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
Designed for local health department personnel, this course prepares people who manage individuals and teams to use Psychological First Aid (PFA) to foster resilience in those they lead and supervise and help them to do the best work they can. The course describes PFA, an evidence-informed, modular approach for helping people in the immediate aftermath of natural and human-caused disasters, and it explains how leaders can use PFA with their teams.

Continuing education - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD (VA, PTSD)
This section of the website of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is for professional researchers, providers, and helpers who are concerned with trauma. The website brings together free, in-depth continuing education courses with topics ranging from PTSD to secondary traumatic stress.

Creating safe scenes - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This 1.5-hour course helps first responders assist individuals in crisis living with mental illness or substance use disorders using safe, positive approaches. It also helps first responders better understand mental health and illness and substance use disorders so they can apply safer strategies during crisis situations. The course is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Pre-hospital Continuing Education for continuing education unit credits for emergency medical services providers.

Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) trainings - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
The CCP has several required trainings for crisis counselors employed by a Federal Emergency Management Agency CCP grant. Many of these trainings are delivered in person; however, the PowerPoint presentations and other course materials have been made available. In addition, there are several online training videos that have been made available to crisis counselors interested in obtaining skills in supporting disaster survivors.

Cultural competency curriculum for disaster preparedness and crisis response - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health (HHS, OMH)
This program is designed for first responders, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), emergency managers, physical and behavioral health care practitioners, and others who work on disaster preparedness and response and would like to ensure that they provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. OMH developed this curriculum to help people involved in disaster response and support of disaster-affected communities to provide services that reach and are effective for people of all cultures. EMTs, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and dentists can earn continuing education credits for completion of the curriculum.

Dealing with disaster related trauma in children - Columbia University
This 1-hour course defines disaster-related trauma in children and helps learners to identify the indicators that a young survivor may need further intervention. The course also provides potential interventions to assist children in recovering from disaster-related trauma and building resilience.

Dealing with stress in disasters: Building psychological resilience - Local Public Health Institute of Massachusetts
This 2-hour training describes the stressors that response work may involve and possible consequences of stress. It equips responders with an arsenal of techniques for addressing and managing stress and heightening resilience. The training provides an in-depth look at the stress response within an individual, defines and describes compassion fatigue, explores individual and group resilience, and introduces Psychological First Aid and other methods and approaches to coping with stress and fostering resilience.

Disaster behavioral health - University of North Carolina, Gillings School of Global Public Health
This 30-minute course module defines disaster behavioral health as it relates to public health preparedness. Topics include the role of disaster behavioral health providers, signs and symptoms of stress, self-care, and planning for behavioral health in disaster preparedness.

Disaster behavioral health - University of Washington, School of Public Health, Northwest Center for Public Health Practice
Designed for public health workers including behavioral health providers and practitioners, health care providers and practitioners, first responders, and emergency planners, this 1-hour training provides an overview of the psychological challenges communities may face after a disaster occurs. Topics include the psychological phases of a community-wide disaster, mental health risks that rescue workers and victims face, and signs a survivor needs additional mental health assistance.

Education, training, and planning resources - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)
The CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response offers training in emergency preparedness and response for public health workers, health care workers, and public leaders. The trainings focus on public health preparedness and community planning and engagement.

Effects of disasters on mental health: Awareness level - Iowa Department of Public Health
Provided through Prepare Iowa, a collaboration of the Iowa Department of Health and the University of Iowa, this 1-hour course is intended for anyone who may come into professional contact with disaster victims. The objectives of the course include defining disaster and trauma and understanding how proximity to a disaster event affects the potential for a traumatic response.

Effects of disasters on mental health for children and adolescents - University of Iowa
This 1-hour course provides general knowledge of how disaster trauma affects children and adolescents. The course also emphasizes skills such as administering Psychological First Aid to children in the aftermath of a disaster and screening them for mental health disorders in the months that follow. The course is provided through Prepare Iowa, a partnership of the Iowa Department of Public Health and the University of Iowa.

Effects of disasters on mental health: Technical level - Iowa Department of Public Health
In this 1-hour course, information is provided on mental health assessment and intervention with disaster survivors, as well as on making sure that services provided after a disaster are culturally appropriate. The course is intended for people who will support disaster survivors as part of their work, including members of disaster medical assistance teams, emergency medical technicians, primary care practitioners, and public health professionals. The course is provided through Prepare Iowa, a partnership of the Iowa Department of Public Health and the University of Iowa.

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Last Updated: 04/26/2018