Associate Professor Leanne Humphreys: There are a number of things that you can do to prepare yourself and your workplace to support individuals and communities to better cope with the mental health impacts of disasters.
Ideally, efforts should be directed towards developing a mental health disaster response plan. This can include considering the kinds of disasters most likely in your community and planning what to do in the event they occur, or being engaged with those agencies that are available to provide mental health and wellbeing supports during and after a disaster. Preparation may also involve participating in professional development activities, and progressively building your own capacity or the capacity of your team to provide the necessary services. We should also take the time to consider our own health and wellbeing. Disasters often involve two phases, the acute and the longer-term rebuilding phase. So maintaining our own health and wellbeing across prolonged periods requires effort. Essentially, being well prepared can help us manage the fear and anxiety that can accompany a disaster, even as experienced practitioners, and can also help us sustain our efforts over time.