Emergency Preparedness and People with Psychiatric Disabilities

For our next post in our series on emergency preparedness and people with disabilities, published in partnership with our colleagues at AbleData, we are highlighting resources and information for people with psychiatric disabilities. Although there are many sample planning templates and checklists available to guide them, people with mental health conditions are in the best position to know their needs and abilities before, during, and after a disaster and their plans and kits must reflect their own unique circumstances.

It is important to plan and prepare ahead of emergencies and disasters and that should include speaking with your medical team about your unique needs and the resources that may help you best during an emergency. Using key principles from National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities, the following resources can be helpful for people with mental health conditions, their families, and emergency responders to plan and prepare. However, these resources are not a replacement to speaking with your medical team.

For emergency planners, centers for independent living, mental health groups, and other organizations working in emergency preparedness, there are several tools and resources available to help in incorporating considerations for people with psychiatric disabilities.

  • Individuals with psychiatric disabilities may have difficulty comprehending evacuation messages and other essential communications and may benefit from personal assistance and direction. Information and instructions, before, during, and after an emergency scenario, should be short and concise, use the simplest possible language, and incorporate pictures such as universal symbols and/or color-coded escape routes/areas of assistance.
  • Mark Salzer, PhD, principal investigator for the Temple University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Living and Participation for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities, previously developed the Disaster Community Support Network of Philadelphia, a Program of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania to create settings in which self-help and mutual aid can occur in response to a traumatic community-wide event. The lessons of the DCSN are broadly applicable to communities around the country. The manual is available for communities wishing to set up their own network (PDF).
  • SAMHSA’s Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) supports states, territories, and tribes in delivering effective behavioral health response to disasters.
  • SAMHSA also provides a Behavioral health Disaster Response Mobile App that is designed to assist responders to disasters in ensuring that they have resources available at their fingertips as they assist people with mental health conditions.
  • The CDC also offers planning resources for state and local governments and response resources for community leaders.
  • TRACIE is a healthcare emergency preparedness information gateway from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for healthcare entities and providers, municipalities, emergency mangers, and others working in public health emergency preparedness. TRACIE includes collection of articles, resources, and must reads for people with mental health conditions and their families to help them prepare and plan for emergencies and disasters.
  • Whenever possible, emergency planners should engage with the disability and mental health advocacy community during preparedness sessions. Inclusive emergency preparedness begins with making a seat at the table for everyone who may be impacted.

Over the years, NIDILRR has funded research projects on emergency preparation and safety for people with disabilities. We looked at the history of these research projects and the newest efforts funded by NIDILRR in Inclusive Disaster Preparedness – Progress Made, Progress to Come, part of our NIDILRR at 40 series.

NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 25 articles from the NIDILRR community and beyond on psychiatric disabilities, mental health, and emergency preparation. These articles include:

If you would like to learn more about emergency preparedness and people with mental health conditions, please contact NARIC’s information specialists

Explore previous titles in this series

Emergency preparedness and people with visual disabilities.

Emergency preparedness and people with auditory disabilities.

Emergency preparedness and people with mobility disabilities.

Emergency preparedness and people with intellectual, developmental, and cognitive disabilities.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Emergency Preparedness and People with Psychiatric Disabilities

  1. Pingback: Emergency Preparedness and People with Intellectual, Developmental, or Cognitive Disabilities | Collection Spotlight from the National Rehabilitation Information Center

  2. Pingback: Emergency Preparedness and People with Auditory Disabilities | Collection Spotlight from the National Rehabilitation Information Center

  3. Pingback: Emergency Preparedness and People with Visual Disabilities | Collection Spotlight from the National Rehabilitation Information Center

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.