The American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Services: Development of a cooperative, single function, multidisciplinary service model


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Abstract

Not until 1989 did the Red Cross officially recognize a need for a systematic and organized plan for the mental health needs of disaster survivors. Over the next decade, the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Services program has developed and evolved to assist both disaster victims and the Red Cross workers who serve them to cope with the overwhelming stresses encountered by both groups in the aftermath of disasters. The Red Cross now coordinates a large and diverse group of mental health professionals from fields of psychology, psychiatry, nursing, social work, marriage and family therapy, and counseling who work together cooperatively. Cross-disciplinary conflicts are minimized by the Red Cross' generic approach to the various mental health professional specialties as functionally interchangeable in performing Red Cross duties. This article reviews the development of this process and describes one local Red Cross chapter's early experience as part of this effort.

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