Public Health Emergencies
In responding to disasters and other emergencies, including public health emergencies, we all rely on pre-established plans, structures, and chains of command. These tools are indispensable, particularly in the chaotic post-disaster environment. But, as stories from the field so often show, it is also crucial to meet survivors where they are.
This issue of The Dialogue from SAMHSA's Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) brings you stories of responses to public health emergencies in communities across the United States. Whether responders were facing an outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C, a water crisis, or the Zika virus, they all drew on their understanding of their community as well as relationships with other organizations to respond in ways that ensured the best possible behavioral health outcomes.
Have you taken a community-centered approach to emergency response? Are there unique aspects of public health emergencies, and important lessons learned, that we can highlight in future issues of this newsletter? Please share your experience via email to DTAC@samhsa.hhs.gov. We'll print selected reader comments in a future edition of The Dialogue.
The Flint Water Crisis: Q&A About the Behavioral Health Response Efforts
SAMHSA DTAC talks with state leaders about the behavioral health response to the crisis in Flint, Michigan, in which elevated levels of lead were found in the drinking water. They discuss how they met the physical and behavioral health needs of a community with preexisting trauma through work at federal, state, and local levels.
Rural Indiana Town Responds to HIV Cluster Driven by Drug Abuse
A team provides an account of a spike in cases of HIV and hepatitis C in a small Indiana town. The sharp increases were associated with misuse of opioids by injection. The team relates how they addressed the crisis and provides lessons learned.
Zika Behavioral Health Resources: Turning Anxiety Into Action
What happens when you're part of the affected community or target audience? A SAMHSA DTAC staff member who was pregnant during the Zika outbreak recounts how she used her own anxiety in developing materials to communicate information about risk.
Part of the SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series, this collection includes resources to help individuals and communities to cope with infectious disease outbreaks, contamination crises, and other emergencies that can compromise public health. Materials relate to pandemic influenza preparedness and response; the response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa; water crises like the one in Flint, Michigan; and best practices in public health emergency communication.
Partnerships are crucial to successful behavioral health planning—especially for public health emergencies, which may be handled by several departments and divisions within a state, territory, or tribal or local government. This SAMHSA DTAC webcast covers key elements of effective partnerships, steps to take in creating and strengthening partnerships, and a real-world example of partnerships in disaster preparedness and response in the state of Colorado.
Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) is an evidence-based approach to communicating with individuals, leaders, and communities during crises, including public health emergencies. CERC Online Training covers CERC principles and provides guidance for successful communication during emergencies with government organizations, community leaders, and the general public.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network describes different types of influenza (flu) and lists effects these types may have on communities. It also offers tips for flu outbreak preparedness and coping, and for supporting children and teens of various ages in dealing with a flu outbreak. The fact sheet is also available in Spanish.
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.