Red Cross mental health volunteers play a pivotal role in responding to disasters. Using their training and therapeutic skills, these Red Cross volunteers provide support and assurance, serve as advocates and help disaster victims cope with their circumstances. They also monitor the well-being of disaster shelter residents and provide support for other Red Cross workers and first responders.
“What I offer is psychological first aid,” said Karin S. Hart, Psy.D, a Red Cross Los Angeles Region volunteer for more than 14 years. ”In some cases, taking it one day at a time is too much to handle. You have to narrow it down to one hour or less, asking clients when they last slept or ate.”
Red Cross Disaster Mental Health volunteers must be state licensed as a psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage and family therapist or clinical social worker. Registered nurses with documented psychiatric training and experience in the mental health field and professional school counselors also qualify.
Mental health volunteers are required to take three American Red Cross disaster courses prior to assisting at disasters: Disaster Services – An Overview, Disaster Mental Health: Introduction, and Foundations of Disaster Mental Health.