STEPS FOR GETTING STARTED
STEP 4 – THE AMERICAN RED CROSS
Mental Health Professionals (MHP) who desire to serve their communities in
times of disaster or crisis are urged to join their local American Red Cross
Chapter. With its effective infrastructure and resources, the Red Cross is
at the forefront of disaster response education and training. The Red Cross
actively recruits, trains, and deploys mental health professionals to provide
support services to disaster survivors and workers across the stages of preparedness,
mitigation, response and recovery.
The American Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) is client-facing throughout
the entire disaster cycle of preparedness, response and recovery. DCS response
provides relief when disasters strike for those affected by residential fires,
earthquakes, floods, wildfires, transportation accidents, terrorist attacks,
mudslides and other man-made and natural disasters 24 hours a day, 365 days-a-year
(over 70,000 disasters in the US each year). All American Red Cross assistance
is free. Disaster Cycle Services activities include casework, health services,
mental health, logistics, sheltering, feeding, communications, governmental
liaison, community partners, etc. Disaster Action Teams (DAT) are the staff
and volunteers who actually respond to the event. Disaster Mental Health volunteers
support DAT activities and may be deployed with the Team.
Red Cross Disaster Mental Health (DMH) volunteers in California must be California
licensed and live in California to be eligible: Psychiatrists (M.D.), Psychologists
(PhD), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Marriage and Family
Therapists (LMFT), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC). Other
professionals eligible to become Red Cross DMH volunteers include nurses with
a bachelor’s degree (BSN) as a registered nurse and American Nurses Credentialing
Center (ANCC) certification for psychiatric and mental health nursing to include
RN-BC or PMHNP-BC or PMHCNS-BC. In addition, School Counselors with a Pupil
Personnel Services (PPS) Credential with a specialization in School Counseling
and School Psychologists with a Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential with
a specialization in School Psychology are also eligible. If you have the required
qualifications, you can train and serve as a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health
(DMH) volunteer. See Opportunities for DMH Volunteers.
While interns and unlicensed mental health personnel in all mental health
disciplines who lack the above qualifications are not eligible to participate
in Red Cross Disaster Mental Health activity, they are encouraged to serve
as volunteer providers of other client-oriented Red Cross services such as
client casework services and recovery, working in shelters, and mass feeding.
These vital disaster services require excellent people skills and working in
close collaboration with the disaster health and mental health services system.
Mental health professionals can take classes to become an instructor and to
teach informative classes on disaster mental health, talk with volunteers who
return from deploying from a disaster, and attend various training institutes
while experiencing great collegiality and satisfaction in using mental health
skills with those served, the volunteers, and staff. The Red Cross is a pioneer
in emphasizing the importance of self-care and caring for its own.
Complete the following tasks to become an American Red Cross DCS Volunteer:
- Contact the Red Cross chapter closest to you by going to www.redcross.org and select “FIND YOUR LOCAL RED CROSS” at the top of the page
- On your chapter web page click on “Volunteer” on the left
side and submit an application by making an account in Volunteer Connection
- Attend a Red Cross orientation as local chapters have their own procedures
- Complete your application by doing other required paperwork and background
- Take the following Red Cross training
Disaster Cycle Services: An Overview [60/120 Minutes] is a web-based or instructor-led
course that provides an overview of how DCS fulfills the Red Cross mission
and describes the whole cycle process of helping individuals, families and
communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. The course
also reviews the role of community and government partners and describes opportunities
for volunteers in Disaster Cycle Services. Note: This course replaces all versions
of Disaster Services: An Overview. See Course
Disaster Mental Health: Introduction [30 Minutes] is a web-based course for
credentialed professionals who are interested in becoming Red Cross Disaster
Mental Health responders. The course presents an overview of the services that
Disaster Mental Health responders provide both on a local response and on a
large disaster relief operation and identifies the next steps to becoming a
volunteer. It is currently not a required course for Disaster Mental Health
volunteers but it is strongly encouraged that interested volunteers take the
course before moving forward with additional trainings. See Course Fact Sheet.
Disaster Mental Health Fundamentals [3 Hours] is a basic level, webinar or
instructor-led course for qualified MHP that introduces the key concepts, knowledge
and skills required of a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health (DMH) responder.
It provides participants the opportunity to apply their learning to real-world
examples that reflect challenges experienced by DMH responders, be it on a
Disaster Action Team (DAT) response or serving on a larger disaster relief
operation. Note: This course was formerly titled, Foundations of Disaster Mental
Course Fact Sheet.
Psychological First Aid [4 Hours] is a basic level, instructor-led course.
It provides a framework for understanding the factors that affect stress responses
in disaster relief workers and the clients they serve. Participants engage
in practice exercises and complete a self-review questionnaire. See Course Fact Sheet.
Finally, you’re ready to research, select, and become trained with the
crisis intervention approach and method that best suits you by selecting STEP 5 – CRISIS INTERVENTION MODALITIES.