Mental health consequences of disasters

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GGG_global_projectsPreparing for the mental health consequences of disasters

Natural and man-made disasters have mental as well as physical health consequences


Disasters, whether natural or man-made, can acutely affect people’s mental health. Preparing for the psychosocial impact of disasters is an essential part of disaster response training for public health professionals, emergency teams and community volunteers. Mental health treatment and psychosocial support can help people to recover after a crisis and ensure that the disaster does not undermine the long-term wellbeing and mental health of the affected communities.

Gillings faculty are training local and national governments in the U.S. and in countries such as Botswana and Moldova to plan and practice emergency responses. The training exercises support leadership and decision-making and have included public health scenarios that address the long-term effects of critical stress on mental health.

The Gillings School’s Center for Public Health Preparedness is also providing free online training on mental health and trauma issues arising from disasters as part of a 10-module training series, Basics of Public Health Preparedness. Read More

The two-module training program is designed to help professionals and volunteers understand the immediate and short-term psychosocial consequences of disasters and how to assist disaster survivors.  The modules review some of the behaviors common to disaster survivors, and how to build resilience in affected communities.  They also cover occupational health issues such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression among disaster responders.   The mental health preparedness models are part of a ten-module online training series designed to introduce core public health preparedness concepts such as planning, exercises, medical countermeasures, and risk communication.

Gillings also offers a comprehensive online disaster management certificate program for disaster management professionals, Community Preparedness and Disaster Management.

Project Team

  • Rachel Wilfert, Online Training Moducles (Leader)
  • Bill Gentry, Community Preparedness and Disaster Management Certificate Program (Leader)


Funding for the online NCCPHP training provided through the CDC-funded UNC Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Government of Botswana
  • Government of Moldova

In The News

Bill Gentry- Preparedness training benefits North Carolina, national and global communities