Everyone who experiences a disaster is touched by it, including crisis response workers and managers. Good planning can limit health and psychological consequences, minimize disruptions to daily life, and contribute to the growth and empowerment of the individual experiencing the disaster.
Mental health, substance abuse, public health, medical, and emergency response systems face many challenges in meeting the behavioral health needs that result from disasters, such as the construction accident in the picture to the right. Management of the behavioral health consequences of disasters requires a range of interventions at multiple levels in the pre-event, event, and post-event phases.
There are many preventive measures you, as a supervisor, can put into place before an event occurs which can minimize stress. A thoughtfully planned communications strategy can decrease the impact of stress while accomplishing the goal of delivering accurate and timely information within the organization and to the public.
A clear understanding of roles and procedures is critical to helping individuals manage stress. Training and preparedness in incident management procedure are key to stress management.
Here are some suggested action steps that may help you and your workers cope with stress in a more effective manner:
At the disaster scene, you, as a manager, can provide certain supports for workers to handle stress and help them effectively perform the tasks at hand.
Here are some tips:
During the crisis, it is normal to experience stress, but remember stress can be identified and managed before it gets out of hand. You are the most important player in managing your stress during a crisis.
Here are some ways to manage stress during a crisis:
The ending of the disaster assignment, whether it involved immediate response or long-term recovery work, can be a period of mixed emotions for workers.
While there may be some relief that the disaster operation is ending, there is often a sense of loss and "letdown," with some difficulty making the transition back into family life and the regular job.
Here are some ways to minimize stress for workers after the crisis:
Stress management is key to emergency management. Successful stress management is built on prevention and planning, a solid understanding of roles and responsibilities, support for colleagues, good self-care, and seeking help when needed.
Crisis response professionals may be repeatedly exposed to unique stressors during the course of their work. Successful implementation of any stress management plan requires overcoming some obstacles and barriers, including priority setting, resource allocation, organizational culture, and stigma.
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