You probably recall Charlie Brown yelling “Good Grief!” when something bad happens to him. While no one really wants bad things to happen (well, almost all of us – look for another post on evil threats and hazards), we all need to get through the bad things which happen in our lives physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Grief is part of that process. A good part. The CDC says
Grief is a normal response to loss during or after a disaster or other traumatic event. Grief can happen in response to loss of life, as well as to drastic changes to daily routines and ways of life that usually bring us comfort and a feeling of stability. (CDC, 2021)
When a big disaster happens (and gets a Presidential Disaster Declaration), amongst the many missions and activations which will occur, two things will happen that can help with grief:
The state (or territory, or sovereign tribal nation) will most likely apply for a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant to “support mental and substance use disorder treatment, crisis counseling, and other related supports for adults and/or school-aged children impacted” by that disaster (SAMHSA, 2021). Grants are typically between $3 - $7million for each state, per declared disaster. And this happens only on presidentially declared disasters, not emergencies.
The American Red Cross will allocate a task force made up of health, mental health, spiritual care and casework volunteers to independently contact each and every family experiencing a disaster fatality to see what help they may need moving through their grief. In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of fatalities was so insurmountable, they established a Virtual Family Assistance Center to help people connect to the resources available to help them with their grief and loss.
Regardless of whether the disaster is declared or not, there are still many, many community resources which first responders, emergency responders, other government, non-government, and community partners can utilize to help them through any grief they themselves may experience. Life Safety – always our number one incident priority, includes our own mental health, too. The same is true for the impacted individuals and families:
How to get immediate help in a crisis
- Call 911
- Disaster Distress Helpline: call or text 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat
- The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructions
Mike Prasad, CEM® is our Regional Product and Services Representative for Regions 1 and 2. Prior to joining The Blue Cell, Mike held leadership emergency management positions in state government and non-profit organizations. His background includes emergency operations planning, continuity planning, training and exercise development, and emergency operations center activations. He is also experienced in human services – including mass care, community recovery, and Individual Assistance, along with voluntary agency and private sector coordination. Mike holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ohio University and is currently completing his Master of Arts in Emergency and Disaster Management from American Public University. He is also a Certified Emergency Manager® from the International Association of Emergency Managers, where he is the Vice President of Region 2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-prasad/