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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Resources

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) supports preparedness efforts by states, territories, and local entities to deliver an effective mental health and substance abuse (behavioral health) response to disasters. SAMHSA helps states and communities with disaster behavioral health preparedness and response issues directly and also through the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC). SAMHSA and SAMHSA DTAC provide materials, training, and technical assistance to the entire United States, its territories, and federally recognized tribes for all-hazards disaster behavioral health preparedness, response, and recovery. For more information about SAMHSA DTAC and our services, please visit our website at http://www.samhsa.gov/dtac. You can also contact SAMHSA DTAC by e-mailing DTAC@samhsa.hhs.gov or calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-308-3515.

The following list of materials includes those focused on behavioral health needs following a traumatic event, and separate sections listing materials for addressing the special needs of children and caregivers and disaster responders.

Resources on Traumatic Events and Mass Violence

SAMHSA Behavioral Health Disaster App

The SAMHSA Disaster App allows disaster behavioral health responders to navigate resources related to pre-deployment preparation, on-the-ground assistance, and post-deployment resources. Users can also share resources from the app via text message or email, and quickly identify local behavioral health services. 

SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series Installment: Disaster-Specific Resources

This SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series installment provides psychoeducational materials for disaster-specific preparedness and response.  It also includes section on mass violence.

Dealing with the effects of trauma: A self-help guide

This SAMHSA guide provides in-depth information on recovering from a traumatic event, including tips for seeking and receiving help from healthcare providers, things survivors can do on their own, and links to additional resources.

Effects of traumatic stress after mass violence, terror, or disaster

Developed by the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this publication provides information regarding expected reactions to out-of-the ordinary situations.  It includes descriptions of common traumatic stress reactions, problematic stress responses, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder.

Grief Leadership: Leadership in the wake of tragedy

This tip sheet can help leaders understand their role in individual and or community recovery following a tragedy.  This resource provides guidance for communicating effectively in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy as well as throughout the recovery process and describes common symptoms of grief.

Incidents of mass violence

This SAMHSA page lists the risk factors for distress after a mass violence event. SAMHSA also provides tips on what to do in lockdown situations, lists signs of emotional distress, and highlights the Disaster Distress Helpline and other resources. 

Mental health response to mass violence and terrorism: A field guide

This SAMHSA field guide was written for all types of first responders and other service providers who help survivors and families during the aftermath of mass violence and terrorism.  It includes information on survivor reactions and needs as well as stress prevention and management tips for responders. 

Mental health and mass violence: Evidence-based early psychological intervention for victims/survivors of mass violence

This report is geared towards those who deliver psychological interventions to emotionally distressed people following mass violence, those who research these issues, and employers who want to help workers who have experienced this type of emotional trauma.  It is also intended to aid officials who must decide what types of mental health assistance to consider in the response to mass violence and terrorism.

Responding to victims of terrorism and mass violence crimes

The authors describe the relationship between the Office for Victims of Crime and the American Red Cross and provide guidance on crime victims' rights and needs as well as how to assist survivors of terrorism and mass violence events.  The authors compare natural disasters to disasters caused by criminal human behavior and note the psychological effects of each.

Traumatic incident stress

This fact sheet from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health highlights the physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that first responders may experience after a disaster. The Institute provides tips and links to additional resources that can help responders take care of their own emotional health.

Traumatic stress and substance use problems​

This booklet from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies discusses the relationship between substance use and trauma.

Resources for Teachers, Families, and Caregivers to Help Children and Youth


Childhood traumatic grief educational materials for parents 
Guía informativa sobre la aflicción traumática infantil

These fact sheets from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network describe childhood traumatic grief, how it differs from other kinds of grief, and common signs of grief.  The authors include tips for parents that can help them guide their children through the grieving process.

Tips for talking with and helping children and youth cope after a disaster or traumatic event:  A guide for parents, caregivers, and teachers

The information contained in this fact sheet can help parents, caregivers, and teachers recognize and address problems in children and teens affected by a mass casualty event. Readers can learn about signs of stress reactions that are common in young survivors at different ages, how to help children through grief.

Helping Your child cope with media coverage of disasters:  A fact sheet for parents

The authors discuss the effects of post-disaster media coverage on children and provide strategies that parents can use to address these effects.

It's Okay to Remember

This video provides information regarding traumatic grief in children, addresses the three main types of trauma reminders, and illustrates how families can experience the pain of loss and then heal. It features physicians and experts in the field and is appropriate for parents and others who care for children.

A national tragedy: Helping children cope

This website hosted by the National Association of School Psychologists provides recommendations for parents and school personnel for helping children cope with a crisis.   The website lists suggestions for what adults, parents, and schools can do following a traumatic event.

Psychosocial issues for children and adolescents in disasters

This booklet contains resources for people working with children after a disaster.  It covers child development theories in relation to how youth respond emotionally to disasters. It also features suggestions for working with children and adolescents, case studies, and a resource guide.

Parent tips for adolescents

This table lists possible reactions, suggested responses, and examples of things parents can do and say to children affected by a disaster.

Responding to stressful events: Helping children cope

This packet contains information on helping children cope after a stressful event, highlighting common reactions and coping techniques.

Tips for talking to children and youth after traumatic events: A guide for parents and educators​

The authors explain how to help children cope with the emotional aftermath of a disaster and include information on common reactions according to developmental stage.

Understanding child traumatic stress

The author discusses the cognitive response to danger as it relates to traumatic experiences or traumatic stress throughout all developmental stages, particularly in children. The document includes an overview of posttraumatic stress responses and their severity and duration, as well as posttraumatic stress after chronic or repeated trauma.

Disaster Response Personnel - The Behavioral Health Response to Mass Violence

The speakers in this SAMHSA DTAC podcast inform disaster behavioral health professionals about the psychological responses to mass violence and suggest strategies and interventions to provide immediate support and mitigate long-term negative mental health consequences.

A guide to managing stress in crisis response professions

This SAMHSA pocket guide provides first responders with information on signs and symptoms of stress and offers simple, practical techniques for minimizing stress responses prior to and during disaster response.

Mass Casualty: Support and Response

In this SAMHSA webinar, speakers share information about emotional reactions to mass casualty events; address what Medical Reserve Corps team members, Commission Corps Officers, and other responders may encounter in the field during a crisis event; and familiarize participants with related disaster behavioral health resources available through SAMHSA.

Self-Care for Disaster Behavioral Health Responders​

In this 60-minute SAMHSA DTAC podcast, disaster behavioral health responders can learn about best practices and tools that could enable them and their supervisors to identify and effectively manage stress and secondary traumatic stress.

Stress Management for Emergency Responders: What Responders Can Do

This CDC audio podcast is part of a series that examines sources of stress and what individuals, team leaders, and agency management can do to manage the stress. Tips for reducing stress and lessening its negative impacts are also provided by CDC.

Traumatic incident stress: Information for emergency response workers

This CDC fact sheet outlines symptoms of traumatic incident stress and lists activities emergency response workers can do on site and at home to cope with disaster response.

Understanding compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction: Tips for disaster responders

This SAMHSA DTAC podcast can help disaster behavioral health professionals learn about the positive and negative effects of helping disaster survivors.

Links to Organizations and Agencies

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress is dedicated to advancing trauma-informed knowledge, leadership, and methodologies.  The center's work addresses a wide scope of trauma exposure from the consequences of combat, operations other than war, terrorism, natural and human-caused disasters, and public health threats.

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)

OVC is committed to enhancing the nation's capacity to assist crime victims and to providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime.

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC)

OVC TTAC is the gateway to current training and technical assistance for victim service providers and allied professionals who serve crime victims, towards the aim of building the capacity of victim assistance organizations across the country.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN): Community Violence

The mission of NCTSN is to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for traumatized children and their families.  The community violence section of their website assists parents and families after an individual or group conflict that occurs in public areas.​​​