Disaster Mental Health

Both natural and human-generated disasters, which are associated with destruction as well as loss of loved ones and irreplaceable belongings, often overwhelm one's normal coping capacity.

Disasters also tend to stress emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physiological, and religious/spiritual beliefs. In light of this, ACA has assembled the resources below to serve as a base for developing responses to disaster situations.

SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline


 "The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is a program of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that provides 24/7/365 crisis counseling and support for anyone in the U.S. experiencing distress or other behavioral health concerns related to any natural or human-caused disaster.  Calls (1-800-985-5990) and texts (text "TalkWithUs" to 66746) are answered by a network of independently-operated crisis centers around the country, who provide psychological first aid, emotional support, crisis assessment and intervention, and referrals to local/state behavioral health services for follow-up care & support."

Disaster Distress Hotline Brochure

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ACA & The American Red Cross

Interested in Becoming a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Volunteer?

As a Red Cross partner, each year free training is available to ACA members at the ACA Annual Conference. Upon course completion, attendees will receive continuing education credit and become eligible to be deployed by the Red Cross both locally and nationally. Interested members must meet the following criteria:

  • Participants must be licensed by the state counseling licensure board from the state in which they reside. Red Cross DMH eligibility criteria is in the process of being expanded and in the future will include mental health professionals with all levels of licensure as well as mental health professionals who have retired their licenses. This website will be updated with more specifics when they are available in Fall 2016.
  • School counselors must have successfully completed a master’s or doctorate degree and hold a current state license or state certification.
  • Current ACA member in good standing.

Click here to download registration information.

Contact your local Red Cross chapter to find out more. Find your local chapter at http://www.redcross.org/find-your-local-chapter.

Questions? Contact Debbie Beales at dbeales@counseling.org or 800-347-6647 x306.

Sheltering In Place

Working in conjunction with the American Red Cross and other mental health associations, Stephanie Dailey compiled these guidelines for Sheltering-in-Place. The American Counseling Association wishes to express its gratitude to Ms. Dailey for her time and efforts.

Sheltering-in-Place guidelines


Trauma Interest Network

To join the Traumatology Interest Network, send an email to Holly Clubb with your request. Please allow 3-5 business days for a response.