The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed an organized team of mental health and other helping professionals who respond to the behavioral health needs of New Hampshire residents following disasters (e.g., bioterrorism, manmade or natural disasters). Five regional disaster behavioral health response teams (DBHRT) can be deployed immediately anywhere in the state. These teams would respond to disasters or critical incidents when local behavioral health resources have been depleted or are overwhelmed. The goal of the disaster behavioral health response teams is to provide an organized response to individual victims, family members, survivors, or the community affected by critical incidents or disasters.
Teams include individuals with experience in human services, psychology, mental health, substance abuse, social work, psychiatry, education or spirituality. Over 1000 Behavioral Health Response Team members have completed specialized training. Team members operate under the supervision of DHHS’s Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator, receive ongoing training and participate in community/statewide drills and exercises.
The DBHRTs 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:
Transition to Recovery
Preparedness and Mitigation
The Governor, or their designee at the Department of Health and Human Services-Emergency Services Unit, would activate these teams during federal or state emergencies. If an emergency is not declared, local municipalities or emergency response systems may request assistance in order to meet the behavioral health needs of communities in local crises by contacting the Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator at (603) 271-9454 or (603) 419-0074.
The North Country Health Consortium offers Psychological First Aid (PFA) Training, an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident. On September 18, 2018, healthcare/social service workers of all stripes gathered for the 5-hour introduction course to learn core PFA actions to take back to their practices and communities.