Division of Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS)

Disaster Assistance

For 24/7 disaster crisis counseling, call Iowa Concern Hotline at 800-447-1985.

The Iowa Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team (DBHRT) is a trained team of volunteers who will respond to the mental health needs of Iowa residents following disasters and critical incidents.  The team provides services for community providers based on local area needs and may be delivered at a disaster site in an affected community or statewide.  Services may include:

  • Behavioral health needs assessment following a disaster
  • Psychological First Aid
  • Brief crisis counseling and intervention
  • Community outreach
  • Public information and education
  • Critical incident stress debriefing
  • Behavioral health consultation for providers, communities and individuals
  • Screening and referral for those affected by a disaster or critical event

Local authorities may request DBHRT assistance in order to meet the behavioral health needs of communities in crisis by contacting the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Duty Officer.  The duty officer is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 515-725-3231.  For more information go to http://www.iowadbhrt.org/.

Six regional Disaster Behavioral Health Response teams can be deployed anywhere in Iowa.  Please click here for more information: http://www.iowadbhrt.org/.

If you would like information on the Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team, please contact Karen Hyatt, Emergency Mental Health Specialist at khyatt@dhs.state.ia.us.

Project Recovery Iowa is a federally funded Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP).  The goal is to assist individuals and communities in recovering from the challenging effects of natural and human-caused disasters through the provision of community-based outreach and psycho educational services.   Project Recovery Iowa assists with the following services:

  • Individual Crisis Counseling
  • Basic Supportive or Educational Contact
  • Group Crisis Counseling
  • Public Education
  • Community Networking and Support
  • Assessment, Referral and Resource Linkage
  • Distribution of Educational Materials

For more information go to http://www.projectrecoveryiowa.com/ or call 1-800-447-1985.

If you would like information on Project Recovery Iowa or the Crisis Counseling Program Grant please contact Karen Hyatt, Emergency Mental Health Specialist at khyatt@dhs.state.ia.us.

Dealing with the Stress of Surviving a Disaster - You are Not Alone

Response to a disaster goes through many phases. The euphoria of actually surviving the disaster leads to the frustration and anger stage as people struggle to put their lives back together. In many cases, it takes weeks or even months for signs of stress to surface.  Iowans don't need to battle these symptoms alone. Despite our well-deserved reputation for self-reliance, Iowans are invited to seek help as needed.

Additional Resources

How to Cope With a Disaster

These documents provide information for families and individuals dealing with a disaster event.

Personal Recovery From Natural Disasters

Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips for recovering from a natural Disaster

It is common for people who have experienced traumatic situations to have very strong emotional reactions.  Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events can aid you in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and help you along the path to recovery. This article will help you recognize the signs of stress, how to relieve stress and know when to get help.

Dealing with Effects of Trauma: A Self-Help Guide

This is a comprehensive 8-page Self-Help Guide. It may give you guidance to relieve some disaster-related symptoms and share some simple and safe things you can do to help yourself heal from the effects of trauma.

Phases of Disaster Recovery

The different phases of disaster recovery are distinct with some phases emerging long after the actual disaster.  This one-pager helps to explain these common phases.

Coping with Floods

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. This article gives tips on how to prepare for a flood and advice on what to do if your home is damaged.

Coping with the Aftermath of a Flood

This one-pager provides tips for dealing with the range of emotions you may experience as a flood survivor.

Help for Children and Teens

Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Children

The anxiety and fear followed by a disaster can be especially troubling for surviving children. This article has tips for parents to help alleviate emotional effects of trauma and how to know when it is time to get professional help.

Flood Aftermath: Helping Your Children

Floods bring special stress to children. These suggestions are for helping children through this stress.

Tips for Talking to Children

Disasters or traumatic events affect children as much as adults. This article talks about how to help your child understand and cope with the experience.

Helping Children Cope

How parents or other adults react to a child following any traumatic event can help children recover more quickly and more completely. This one-pager contains six primary action items to help you in this task.

Impact of Disasters on Children

This 2-page article discusses the significant emotional and physical changes that children experience as a result of a disaster.

How Children React to a Disaster Based on Their Age Group

This article provides information on how children of different age groups react to disaster and helpful tips on how to help them cope.

After a Disaster - What Teens Can Do

This one-page document provides tips on how teens can deal with their feelings post disaster.

Help for Older Adults

Helping Older Adults Cope This document talks about understanding some of the common reactions in older adults, and ways we can better offer support and assistance where appropriate to help them recover from a catastrophic event.

Home Repairs

Repairing Your Flooded Home This 56-page book gives detailed, step-by-step advice you can use to clean up, rebuild, and get help after a flood.
Flood Cleanup Safety and Salvaging This brochure provides some tips on residential cleanup and gives an overview of those materials that can be salvaged and those that cannot and how to make some decisions.

Help for Emergency Responders

Managing Stress - Tips for Responders This guide for emergency and disaster response workers provides information on ways to help manage their stress.
A Guide to Managing Stress in Crisis Response Professions Crisis response workers and managers are repeatedly exposed to extraordinarily stressful events. This places them at higher-than-normal risk for developing stress reactions. This 40-page guide to managing stress provides some basic tools that can inspire and spread optimism and point the way to effective stress management.



Images of people and children