Like many causes of trauma, disasters can be sudden and overwhelming. Being caught in the middle of a disaster, like a bushfire, can have a devastating emotional effect on victims and their families.
Preparing for disasters
Most people in Australia live in areas of threat from natural disaster, whether it be from bushfires, floods, severe storms, droughts, cyclones or earthquakes.
To prepare psychologically for a disaster, you should anticipate stress and consider how you might feel in a frightening situation, so you can manage your reactions. Practising what you’ll do and how to stay calm, for example by using controlled breathing or grounding techniques, can help.
When disaster strikes
Disasters cause extreme disruption and emotional distress for individuals, families and communities. Those receiving assistance as well as those involved in disaster management efforts can be affected.
Individual and community strength can be enhanced by simple, evidence-based principles of Psychological First Aid to help people stay emotionally healthy.
We have developed a range of specific resources to help people in the immediate aftermath of disaster.
Disaster Mental Health Hub
Bushfire Recovery Projects
Floods and cyclones
Recovering from the trauma
Recovering from trauma doesn’t mean forgetting your experience or not feeling any emotional pain when reminded of the event. Recovery means becoming less distressed and having more confidence in your ability to cope as time goes on.
We have a range of resources to help you understand trauma and to aid the recovery process.
Resources for individuals recovering from a traumatic experience
- Recovery resources for individuals to help themselves or others, including fact sheets and booklets
- Recovery Online website with simple psychological trauma tools and videos
Resources for those supporting people who experienced trauma
- Practitioner Resources for volunteers, workplace peers or managers, community workers, or mental health practitioners
- PTSD Guidelines provide treatment guidance for practitioners
Resources for emergency service workers and organisations
- Trauma and PTSD Guides for paramedics, firefighters, police, health professionals and other support workers.
Advice to help treat veterans with mental health issues
If you’re a practitioner working with veterans with mental health issues, our Centenary of Anzac Centre offers free consultations, guidance and support to help you care for your clients. Ask an expert now by calling 1800 VET 777 or submitting an online enquiry at www.anzaccentre.org.au/enquiry.
Evidence-based trauma training
We offer a range of engaging and interactive training facilitated by trauma experts, to help you gain the knowledge and skills to deliver effective support and treatment to people affected by trauma. Find out more and register for training at www.phoenixaustralia.org/for-practitioners/training-programs.
We also have a range of trauma recovery resources available on the Recovery section of our website.
Please note: Phoenix Australia does not provide direct clinical care. If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others call 000, Lifeline 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467, or Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.