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Volunteers Needed

The following message is from the American Red Cross. This message was sent to AAMFT on April 18th concerning the need for LMFTs and other licensed mental health professionals to provide support to communities impacted by the recent tornado outbreak:

Mental Health Professionals Being Recruited For American Red Cross Disaster Relief Operations 4/18/2011
Providing Disaster Mental Health (DMH) Support

The American Red Cross is in great need of licensed mental health professionals to provide support to the communities affected by the recent tornado outbreak (see eligibility criteria below)*.

Volunteering in your local community:
To find the Red Cross chapter closest to you, please go to the Chapter Locater website at www.redcross.org. Local volunteers may be called upon to provide mental health support to volunteers going on national disaster assignments or to Red Cross chapter workers and volunteers who may be experiencing increased stress due to the pressures of coordinating the response to national disaster relief operations while still responding to the ongoing needs of their local community. Please be aware that mental health volunteers may be expected to complete Red Cross-specific training in psychological first aid and disaster mental health to prepare them for their volunteer roles and to ensure the safety and welfare of Red Cross clients and volunteers as well as those from partnering agencies.

Volunteering outside your local community:
If you are interested and available for a national deployment for 10 days to 3 weeks, please contact your local Red Cross chapter. To find the Red Cross chapter closest to you, please go to the Chapter Locater website at www.redcross.org. Please be aware that prior to a national deployment, mental health volunteers must be registered as Red Cross volunteers and will be required to complete Red Cross-specific mental health training in psychological first aid and disaster mental health to prepare them for their volunteer roles and to ensure the safety and welfare of Red Cross clients and volunteers as well as those from partnering agencies. Be prepared for there to be a waiting period before Red Cross training is available and before you can deploy out of state. Any help you can provide to your local community and Red Cross chapter during this waiting period will be of great help. (In special circumstances, you may be notified of alternative training arrangements).

If you have additional questions or need more information, please contact your local Red Cross chapter directly.

*DMH Eligibility Criteria (must be licensed in the state in which you live):
• Independently-licensed, master’s level (or higher) mental health professionals
• State-licensed or state-certified school counselors and school psychologists
• RNs with a certification for psychiatric and mental health nursing to include RN-BC, PMHNP-BC or PMHCNS-BC.

Volunteer mental health professionals should be prepared to:
• Be patient and flexible. Preparing disaster relief workers to respond in the aftermath of disaster can be extremely challenging. Mental health professionals should be prepared to register as volunteers with their local chapter. This might entail completing the paperwork necessary to establish a volunteer relationship with the Red Cross and provide documentation that verifies their professional credentials and training. The Red Cross places high value in getting the right people, to the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time.
• Complete specific Red Cross training. The Red Cross has a specific role in disaster response and disaster mental health volunteers are critical to carrying out that role. Prior to utilizing mental health professionals in the Red Cross chapter or on a disaster relief operation outside their local community, volunteers must receive adequate training and information to prepare them to carry out their duties and responsibilities. New volunteers may be required to take specific Red Cross training courses in Introduction to Disaster, Psychological First Aid, and Foundations in Disaster Mental Health in addition to others.
• Provide non-traditional mental health services. In the aftermath of disaster, psychological first aid is the intervention of choice. Intensive psychotherapy is often contraindicated. Instead, early intervention is primarily focused on assisting disaster survivors and response workers in meeting their most basic needs. This includes helping people feel safe and secure, obtain food and water, address their physical health needs (first aid and access to their medications) and connect to their family, friends, and other social support networks. Providing emotional comfort and support and helping individuals focus on their disaster-related needs is the most important mental health intervention you can provide at this time.
• Support local Red Cross chapter activities. Mental health volunteers can assist their local chapter with preparing Red Cross disaster relief works for out of state assignments, supporting the families of disaster relief workers out on assignment, providing supportive interventions to those returning from disaster relief operations, and conducting media interviews on the common reactions individuals experience in the aftermath of disaster. Mental health workers may also be called upon to assist with other chapter support duties such as answering phones, preparing meals, filing, etc. While not typically considered traditional mental health services, helping out with these activities can go a long way to preserving the mental health of other Red Cross workers and staff.

If you are interested in volunteering at your local chapter or for a disaster relief operation outside your community, please contact the Red Cross closest to you. To find your local Red Cross chapter go to the Chapter Locater website at www.redcross.org.