In response to the terrorist events of September 11, 2001 and the need to improve our ability to respond to disasters of all types, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed and expanded its disaster behavioral health services.
Located in Concord, New Hampshire on the grounds of State Office Park South, DHHS is involved in planning, response and recovery activities, in coordination with other emergency response partners. The Disaster Behavioral Health Response Teams (DBHRT), coordinated by DHHS, provides disaster related services to the general public, victims, their families and first responders; including, police, fire and emergency medical personnel.
Historically, behavioral health issues have been left out of disaster planning and response efforts, due to a lack of appreciation of the possible severe effects disasters can have on the emotional well being of individuals and communities. However, it is now commonly accepted that terrorism and natural disasters do have a significant impact on the emotional state and functioning of the general public, victims and first responders. Terrorism is psychological warfare; and therefore, it is critical that we prepare psychologically as well as physically. The State of New Hampshire is preparing relentlessly to improve and expand the range of disaster behavioral health related services. Behavioral Health representatives are playing a key role in planning groups and task forces.
In full support of the concept "all disasters are local," we attempt to create a bridge between the local community and state and federal resources needed to mitigate the psychological consequences of a disaster. Disaster Behavioral Health Response Teams (DBHRT) have been formed in five regions of the state. To date, over 800 behavioral health professionals have been trained and are available for activation and deployment. These teams have received training in the general concepts of disaster behavioral health such as, disaster related behavior, common reactions among special needs/vulnerable populations, their roles in a response effort, Incident Command System and various state-of-the-art interventions such as Psychological First Aid and Critical Incident Stress Management. DBHRT members participate in simulated drills and exercises in their communities alongside their public health, public safety and emergency medical response partners. Team members have been issued a photo I.D. giving them authorized access to sites in the event of a disaster. A Behavioral Health Resource Directory has been developed to assist those impacted by disaster that may require referral for professional services. Public information materials including coping tips and strategies are available upon request.
The Disaster Behavioral Health Program assists the citizens of NH who have been exposed to man-made or natural disasters by providing disaster related services and finding mental health resources.
Five regional Disaster Behavioral Health Response Teams (DBHRT) can be deployed immediately anywhere in the state. To date, over 800 behavioral health professionals have been trained and are available for activation and deployment.
If you would like access to or more information about the Disaster Behavioral Health Response Teams, disaster behavioral health training, how to join a team, or would like to receive educational materials, please contact the Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator at (603) 271-9454 or (800) 852-3345 ext. 9454.