The Dialogue: Stress Management and Self-Care in Disaster Response


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SAMHSA The Dialogue
Volume 12, Issue 3

Stress Management and Self-Care in Disaster Response

Many in the disaster response and recovery field struggle to pay more than lip service to stress management and self-care. We preach it and teach it, but it can be difficult to model it. After all, some stress is good—it keeps us alert and focused. But, our bodies cannot stay in a constant state of alertness for too long without experiencing negative health effects.

This issue of The Dialogue from SAMHSA's Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) seeks to promote the importance of on-the-job stress management and self-care practices. The authors in this edition know firsthand the challenges of managing the desire to help with the need for rest. We hope their ideas and experiences help you in setting the example for self-care.

Do you use strategies for coping with stress and practicing self-care? Does your workplace encourage on-the-job stress management? Please share your experience via email to We will print selected reader comments in a future edition of The Dialogue.

Download the Full Issue [PDF – 1.7 MB]

Issue Highlights

flooding in Texas

Texas Flooding: A Team Bands Together

Nearly 100 counties in Texas have received state or federal disaster declarations for flooding since 2015, some of them more than once. Disaster responders work to support the behavioral health of residents while also warding off compassion fatigue in the ranks.

Promoting On-the-Job.jpg

Promoting On-the-Job Stress Management Among Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinators and Responders

The behavioral health response to Hurricanes Rita and Katrina provided essential and practical lessons in how to support responders' stress management and self-care needs.

Stress Management

Stress Management When Implementing a CCP Grant: A Carolinian Perspective

After 11 trillion gallons of water were dumped on the Carolinas in 1 week, behavioral health response workers learn the physical and emotional effects of stress as well as specific strategies for stress reduction.

Recommended Resources

Understanding Compassion Fatigue and Compassion Satisfaction: Tips for Disaster Responders

Presented by an expert who developed a tool to measure compassion satisfaction (CS) and compassion fatigue (CF), this presentation defines CS and CF, provides details of the Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL) by which they can be measured, and offers strategies for responders to help increase their CS and avoid the likelihood of CF during and after their work.

Companion tip sheets: English and Spanish

Tip Sheets About Stress Management for Responders

These SAMHSA DTAC tip sheets provide information and suggestions for preparing for deployment, stress prevention and management during disaster response, and coping with issues for responders that may arise as they return to work.

Self-Care for Disaster Behavioral Health Responders

This webcast identifies aspects of disaster response that may cause stress for responders, presents best practices in responder self-care, and explains how managers and organizations can support responders in maintaining good behavioral health throughout their response work.

Disaster Responders Resource Collection

This webpage covers self-care and stress management for disaster responders, as well as other topics relevant to disaster response, such as post-disaster behavioral health interventions and sources of additional support for responders.

About The Dialogue

The Dialogue, a quarterly technical assistance journal, is an arena for professionals in the disaster behavioral health field to share information, resources, trends, solutions to problems, and accomplishments.

Reference in this email to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by SAMHSA. SAMHSA is not responsible for the contents of any "off-site" web page referenced in this email.

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