The American Red Cross recognizes the importance of mental health especially when facing a natural disaster. Residents are encouraged to practice self-care at all stages of a disaster, particularly those who have been impacted more than once.
“Sometimes even the strongest people we know need the most comfort,” says Jennifer Adrio, Regional CEO. “This is a resilient community, but as the days progress it becomes critical that we continue to support the mental health of our friends and family. Even the small action of picking up the phone and calling can make a difference in someone’s day.”
Red Cross Disaster Mental Health workers work virtually and in-person to meet the emotional needs of disaster clients, communities, and other Red Cross disaster workers in disasters of all sizes. They identify individuals who need additional support, provide short-term disaster mental health interventions, and refer individuals to local resources as necessary, to supplement local community resources and strengthen community resilience. Disaster mental health interventions include enhanced psychological first aid, psycho-education, referrals to local mental health resources, community resilience training, advocacy, crisis intervention, and condolence support.
And because stress can affect anyone, the Red Cross also has disaster mental health and spiritual care workers available to help people cope.
Here are five mental health tips anyone can employ to help ease stress.
Connect with friends and family - Even if you can’t physically visit with loved ones, you can still keep in touch virtually or by phone. Talk about the weather. Talk about your favorite movie. Really, talk about whatever—the important thing is the personal connection.
Take a news break - Yes, it’s good to know what’s going on. No, it’s not good to watch news 24/7. Take a break for the day, or even just for a few hours.
Get some exercise - When you exercise, your body releases chemicals that help improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This includes walking.
Go to bed early - Sleep and mental health go hand in hand. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, you may feel irritable, fatigued, and stressed. Try going to bed an hour earlier to give yourself a bit more shut-eye. And remember, experts recommend avoiding screen time at least one hour before bedtime.
Meditate - Meditation can help you fight anxiety and depression while relieving emotional distress.
The American Red Cross Information Line (1-800-REDCROSS) is available for updated information on health services, disaster mental health services, and other opportunities for assistance.
The Red Cross delivers help to anyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or citizenship status. People who have disaster-caused needs do not need to be American citizens to access Red Cross services.
Visit the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org/safeandwell. The site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe or to search for loved ones that may be in disaster-affected areas. The site is always available, open to the public, and available in Spanish and English. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.