Disaster Mental Health Services Branch

A services branch of the Mental Health Service Command

The United States Fire Department Reserve Corps (USFDRC) under the Mental Health Services Command (MHSC) has developed the Disaster Mental Health Services Branch (DMHSB). The DMHSB provides disaster mental health services to individuals and families who have been impacted by a disaster. (e.g., bioterrorism, man-made or natural disasters).

The DMHSB Reservist Members would respond to disasters or critical incidents when local behavioral health resources have been depleted or are overwhelmed. The goal is to provide an organized response to individual victims, family members, survivors, or the community affected by critical incidents or disasters.

The Reservist Members include individuals with experience in human services, psychology, mental health, substance abuse, social work, psychiatry, education, or spirituality.

The DMHSB provide interventions in three distinct phases that may be delivered at a disaster site, in an affected community, or statewide. The phases and interventions include:

Immediate Response

  • Behavioral Health Needs Assessment
  • Psychological First Aid
  • Crisis Incident Stress Management
  • Community Outreach
  • Public Information
  • Behavioral Health Consultation

Transition to Recovery

  • Brief Supportive Counseling
  • Information Dissemination
  • Screening and Referral
  • Support Groups
  • Public Education

Preparedness and Mitigation

  • Disaster Behavioral Health Planning and Networking
  • Prevention Services Designed to Strengthen Community Resiliency
  • Specialized Training Initiatives for reservist members and Community Partners Activation

Our Reservists have received training in the general concepts of disaster behavioral health such as disaster-related behavior, common reactions among special needs/vulnerable populations, their roles in a response effort, Incident Command System, and various state-of-the-art interventions such as Psychological First Aid and Critical Incident Stress Management. 

Activation

The USFDRC National or State Command would activate these units during federal or state emergencies.

 

If an emergency is not declared, local cities, municipalities or emergency response systems may request assistance in order to meet the behavioral health needs of communities in local crises by contacting us.

 

For additional information about the role these units can play in assisting your community, please contact us:

 

LTG Jessica Heredia, LMHC

Chief of Services

Mental Health Services Command

E-Mail: jheredia@usfdrc.org

Tel: 1 (321) 332-7100 Ext. 407

Eligibility

CURRENTLY LICENSED MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS:

  • At a minimum, holds a Master’s Degree in one of the mental health professions listed below; and
  • Holds a current, unencumbered license from, or is registered with, any U.S. state or territory as a social worker, psychologist, professional counselor, marriage and  family therapist, or psychiatrist (any level license/registration, including nonclinical licenses such as Licensed Masters Social Worker or LMSW)

CURRENT SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS AND SCHOOL COUNSELORS:

  • At a minimum, holds a Master’s Degree in school psychology or school counseling; and
  • Holds a current, unencumbered license or certification as a school psychologist or school counselor issued by an appropriate state board.

CURRENT PSYCHIATRIC NURSES:

  • Have a state license as a registered nurse; and
  • Have a minimum of two years of experience working in a psychiatric setting, verified by a letter from a current or previous employer.

RETIRED MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS:

  • Meet the above educational criteria for the specified profession; and
  • Held a license (any level license) from any U.S. state or territory as a social worker, psychologist, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, psychiatric nurse or psychiatrist, or a certificate as a school psychologist or school counselor; and
  • Maintained a license or certification in good standing upon retirement and without any disciplinary action taken by the issuing U.S. state or territory licensing or certification board.

GRADUATE STUDENT:

Graduate students are eligible to work in the Disaster Mental Health program when they meet both the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in a graduate program leading to a master’s or doctoral degree in a Disaster Mental Health-eligible field of study (for example social work, psychology, professional counseling, school counseling, school psychology, marriage and family therapy, psychiatric nursing, or psychiatry); and
  • Supervised onsite by a Reservist Officer or field supervisor.

For additional information, contact:

Tameca N. Harris-Jackson, Ph.D., MSW, LICSW

Special Adviser to the

Mental Health Services Command

E-Mail: tnharris-Jackson@usfdrc.org

Tel: 1 (321) 332-7100 Ext. 551

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