How To Be A Mental Health “Prepper”

Preparation and prevention in moments of crisis.Mental Health Prepper:

As the northeast prepares for Hurricane Sandy, I think back to the natural disasters I have lived through; Hurricanes Gilbert, Irene and now Sandy as well as quite a few Nor'easters and for a brief period in the 1990's, a few small earthquakes. Natural disasters are good opportunities for us to get focused on what is important individually and communally but it can also strip away our mental defenses making us panic. When resources are low, people can become hostile and pandemonium may ensue. We have only to look at the past behavior within our society after natural events such as "Katrina" or unnatural events such as the Penn State riots following the termination of Joe Paterno via riot to see how quickly things can unravel.

Prepper Prevention:

Prevention is better than cure they say and I agree; besides the physical supplies you will need to get you through a disaster, you also need:

1. A clear head- You cannot think if you are panicking so stay calm and stay solution focused. Blame and judgement are negative emotions and counter productive. I often see people in crisis situations become embroiled in their emotions lashing out at those closest to them and eating up valuable resources. This is a recipe for disaster and further compounds the crisis you are trying to overcome.

2. An action plan- There should be one person in every team, household, village etc. that is the point person for disaster preparedness; this person should have clear direction and purpose that can galvanize and organize the other members of the "team" to act in the most efficient manner possible. Hopefully the point person has been vigilant about building and storing resources, increasing self-reliance and forming alliances. Team/ household members can question the point person after the crisis has abated until then stay solution focused.

3. A safety protocol- Everything in and after a crisis should focus on safety. While working in crisis screening a colleague once said that it was a good day if no one died, I though he was being humorous but later realized he was being factual. First responders, law enforcement, fire and public safety personnel are trained to triage a situation quickly, take a quick inventory of the essentials and respond accordingly. Families/ Teams should also practice this model. If we deal with safety issues such as adequate rest, nutrition, communication and mental health, we can address the developmental/ optimal functioning issues when our resources are renewed and restored ex. avoiding dui, burnout, isolation which can and do lead to accidents and self-harm.

How do you prep for a disaster?

About Tamara Pommells EdS. LPC. LCADC.

Holistic Behavioral Solutions is a community wellness agency, psychotherapy practice and mentoring program in Mercer County, New Jersey which supports individuals, youth and their families as they transition towards a higher level of functioning. Our team of practitioners adhere to a philosophy that values diversity and authenticity and validates the strength and experience of our client base. Services are provided within the community, in office or online for your benefit and convenience. Please call 609-752-3098 for services.
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