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Field Manual for Mental Health and Human Service Workers in Major Disasters


This field manual provides specific and practical suggestions for mental health workers and other human service providers who assist survivors following a disaster.

Topics addressed in this guide include:

  • Introduction
  • Key concepts of disaster mental health
  • Survivors' needs and reactions
  • Disaster counseling skills
    • Establishing rapport
    • Active listening
    • Some dos and don'ts
    • Problem solving
    • A word of caution
    • Confidentiality
  • When to refer for mental health services
  • Potential risk groups
    • Age groups
    • Cultural and ethnic groups
    • People with serious and persistent mental illness
    • People in group facilities
    • Human service and disaster relief workers
  • Stress prevention management
    • Organizational approaches
    • Individual approaches


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (U.S.)

Funding Sources

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (U.S.)

QualityTool Topic



  • Release Date: 01/2000
  • Original Summary: 10/2005
Disclaimer: The inclusion of a tool in the Innovations Exchange does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or Westat of the tool or of the submitter or developer of the tool. Read more.

Last updated: September 12, 2012.