Mental Health Awareness Even More Important in Crisis

by Catherine Carlton, American Red Cross Volunteer Contributor

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Red Cross is highlighting the importance of emotional health and recovery during disasters.

After a disaster, crisis or emergency, it’s natural to have increased stress and perhaps anxiety. How you deal with it, can help you “bounce back.”

When recovering, try to accept whatever reactions you may have. Look forward, one small step at a time, and focus on taking care of your needs and those of your friends and family.

  • Hugs - Debra Smith of Puna at Pahoa Shelter - ARC WebsiteFeeling sad, lonely, overwhelmed, tired, physically drained and/or mentally drained.
  • Having difficulty making decisions or staying focused on tasks at hand
  • Becoming easily frustrated with daily tasks or with family and friends
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Increasing alcohol or substance use.
  • Children can experience all of the reactions above, but they can also resume earlier behaviors (e.g., thumb-sucking or bed-wetting or “acting out.”)


Once you acknowledge your feelings, take action.

House Fire 2015


  • Take care of your safety.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Get some rest.
  • Reach out to others.
  • Be patient with yourself and with those around you.
  • Set priorities. Tackle tasks in small steps.
  • Stay positive. Remind yourself of how you’ve successfully gotten through difficult times in the past.
  • If you have children, give them extra time, hugs and patience.


And, finally and most importantly, if you still don’t feel better, ask for help, 800-985-5990. For more tips on emotionally recovering from a disaster click here.

The American Red Cross provides mental health support during disasters throughout the year. Click to learn how you can become a Disaster Mental Health Volunteer.

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