What is Disaster Mental Health?


isaster mental health refers to mental health services for victims, first responders, and medical personnel who experience disaster. Disaster can include a wide variety of sudden, catastrophic events that cause loss of life, such as an earthquake, a terrorist attack, or even a global pandemic.

What Conditions Are Associated With Disaster Mental Health?

Traumatic experiences during disaster can produce a variety of mental health conditions that last long after danger ends. Some of these may be related to neurological changes produced by long periods of “fight or flight.”

One of the most prominent conditions associated with disaster mental health is PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.) Once thought common only in military conflict, it is now understood PTSD can come from any intense experience of danger that provokes feelings of helplessness.

Clinical Trials on the Disaster Mental Health

PTSD can have symptoms including flashbacks, memory loss (especially in relation to the traumatic event), anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, and angry outbursts. The vast majority of PTSD sufferers are nonviolent and pose no threat to others.

Anxiety and depression are typical complications from any disaster. Both adults and children may feel guilty, believing they “should have done more.” Emotional flashbacks in which the sufferer re-experiences negative emotions without “seeing” or “hearing” the event, are common.

Disaster Mental Health Recovery and Lifestyle Changes

Disaster mental health treatment often includes a combination of medication and therapy. Medication focuses on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Therapy can be in a group or one-on-one setting. Its primary goal is to help a sufferer process trauma.

One of the biggest challenges in disaster mental health care is the difficulty sufferers face verbalizing their experiences. Processing the emotions that come from trauma help reduce their effect on a person’s life. Novel approaches such as art therapy help many individuals express trauma in a way that helps. Techniques like journaling may also be used.

Disaster mental health patients need to identify psychological triggers in their environment. These triggers can cause them to re-experience the emotions or sensations of a past trauma. At first, recognizing and avoiding such triggers is advisable. With professional help, it’s possible to overcome the negative associations of triggers in a controlled environment.

Disaster Mental Health Research

Disaster Mental Health Research

Disaster mental health has been a prominent concern in psychology for decades. As researchers have uncovered effects of trauma on the brain, it has become clear profound neurological changes can occur during disaster even if one is not physically harmed.

Disaster mental health research focuses on two main areas: Reduction and treatment. Reduction aims to equip at-risk populations, like police and EMTs, with coping strategies to manage trauma. Treatment focuses on the neurobiology of trauma, creating better clinical resources for disaster mental health.

Why is Further Disaster Mental Health Research Necessary?

Millions of people all around the world are affected by mental health issues arising from disaster. The lessons of disaster mental health apply to everything from the COVID-19 outbreak to individual experiences of sexual assault or other criminal violence. With that in mind, all disaster mental health research has potential to help a broad spectrum of the population.

Disaster Mental Health Clinical Trials

This list contains all disaster mental health clinical trials on record at ClinicalTrials.gov. To feature a clinical trial on our site, contact us.

  • Identifying Body Awareness-related Brain Network Changes During Cognitive Multisensory Rehabilitation for Reduced Neuropathic Pain in People With Spinal Cord Injury
    on January 12, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Spinal Cord Injuries;   Neuropathic PainInterventions:   Behavioral: Cognitive Multisensory Therapy;   Other: Usual Care;   Behavioral: Clinical Assessment;   Behavioral: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI);   Other: OPTIONAL: blood drawSponsor:   University of MinnesotaRecruiting

  • Ensuring Quality in Psychological Support
    on January 11, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Psychological Distress;   DepressionInterventions:   Behavioral: Ensuring Quality in Psychological Support;   Behavioral: Standard Training and SupervisionSponsors:   George Washington University;   World Health Organization;   The Center for Victims of Torture, United States;   University of Washington;   University of Nairobi;   War Child Holland;   Socios En Salud Sucursal, Peru;   University of South Florida;   HealthRight International;   Johns Hopkins University;   Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia;   The University of New South WalesRecruiting

  • Trigger Point Injection for Myofascial Pain Syndrome in the Low Back: A Randomized Controlled Trial
    on January 11, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Low Back Pain;   Myofascial Pain Syndrome Lower BackInterventions:   Drug: Treatment of Myofascial Pain Syndrome in the low back. This intervention will be based on outcomes of the medications listed below.;   Drug: Evaluation of functional ability using a patient centered functional score known as the Modified Oswestry Disability Index (MODI). The intervention will be based on outcomes of medications below.;   Drug: Following up with participants 60-72 hours after treatment in the Emergency Department. This intervention will be based on outcomes of the medications listed below.Sponsor:   Madigan Army Medical CenterRecruiting

  • Affective Disorders: Eliminate WArning Signs And REstore Functioning: AWARE
    on January 8, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Mood Disorders;   Activities of Daily Living;   Quality of LifeIntervention:   Combination Product: AWARE interventionSponsor:   Mental Health Services in the Capital Region, DenmarkRecruiting

  • The Impact of the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 Disease) on Psychopathology
    on January 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Psychosis;Schizophrenic;   Personality Disorders;   Mood Disorders;   Anxiety Disorders;   Post Traumatic Stress DisorderIntervention:   Other: Psychometric scale administrationSponsors:   University of Milano Bicocca;   Azienda Ospedaliera San Gerardo di MonzaRecruiting

  • Gut Microbiota and Serum Markers for Cognitive Impairment and Poor Prognosis After Ischemic Stroke
    on December 29, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Ischemic StrokeIntervention:   Sponsors:   Nanfang Hospital of Southern Medical University;   Guangdong 999 Brain Hospital;   Zhujiang Hospital;   First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan UniversityRecruiting

  • Covid-19 Pandemic and Cerebral Palsy
    on December 28, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Cerebral Palsy;   Covid19;   Telemedicine;   Caregiver Quality of Life;   Disability, DevelopmentalIntervention:   Sponsor:   Diskapi Yildirim Beyazit Education and Research HospitalRecruiting

  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells for the Treatment of Various Chronic and Acute Conditions
    on December 24, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Autoimmune Diseases;   Cardiovascular Disorders;   Diabetes Complications;   Integumentary Disease;   Musculoskeletal Disorders;   Neurodegenerative Disorders;   Neurologic Disorders;   Pulmonary Disorders;   Sexual Dysfunction;   Urologic Disorders;   Viral IllnessIntervention:   Biological: PrimePro™/ PrimeMSK™Sponsors:   Thomas Advanced Medical LLC;   HeartStem Institute;   NuStemRecruiting

  • OKV Versus CKC for Biomechanics and Function in Mild Knee OA Patients
    on December 22, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Osteoarthritis, Knee;   Aging ProblemsIntervention:   Other: ExerciseSponsor:   Universiti Sains MalaysiaRecruiting

  • Multimodal Brain Decoding of Pain Sensitivity
    on December 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   HealthyIntervention:   Other: no intervention for healthy controlSponsor:   National Yang Ming UniversityRecruiting

  • Effects of a Supervised Exercise Program and a Home Exercise Program in Patients With Systemic Sclerosis
    on December 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Systemic Sclerosis;   Home Exercise;   Aerobic ExerciseInterventions:   Other: supervised Exercise training;   Other: home exercise trainigSponsor:   Dokuz Eylul UniversityRecruiting

  • Inklusiv Plus: Mental Health Of Unemployed Adolescents And Young Adults
    on December 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   Mental DisorderIntervention:   Behavioral: Group psychotherapySponsor:   Zurich University of Applied SciencesRecruiting


With more people experiencing disaster, stigma around seeking disaster mental health treatment is beginning to fade. Disaster mental health clinical resources will depend on active clinical trials that uncover further information about the brain’s trauma response. Further medical research may help millions of people reclaim their sense of stability.