Mental Health Care: At the Forefront of Public Emergency Crises

In cases of emergency, there’s always a period when all hell breaks loose. During this period, both victims and responders can be left frozen because of shock and distress, which are common when people experience traumatic situations.

But after a short period when they are completely still, their response instincts will start to kick in and their brain goes into overdrive to think about how they can resolve the matter at hand. It can also be during this time that the first responders arrive at the scene to help the victims in need.

However, after treating those with physical casualties, first responders should also be able to address the mental health conditions of the people affected by the crises. Doing so raises awareness of the importance of valuing mental health and the toll that it takes on those who experience traumatic situations.

Why Mental Health Must Be a Public Priority

People who encounter emergencies of any kind are more likely to experience psychological distress, which can lead to the development of mental health conditions if left unaddressed. The distressed victims will be more prone to developing depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder because of their experiences.

While many people already have the ability to cope after experiencing a traumatic event, the same cannot be said for everyone else. This is because not everyone has access to proper mental health care and other avenues that can help them deal with their current situation, especially the people in the underprivileged or marginalized communities.

This is truly unfortunate, for these are the communities that are more vulnerable to suffering during emergency crises because they lack access to stable housing or contingency funds that can make coping easier. Marginalized communities will also have more difficulties bouncing back because of their preexisting problems, such as poverty and limited access to basic services.

That’s why public servants need to prioritize addressing the mental health and behavioral needs of the communities they serve. These basic services should be accessible to the public who are financially incapable or have no medical insurance to cover their expenses.

Why Mental Health Is as Important as Physical Health

At this point, it is undeniable that all emergency crises should be considered mental health crises as well because emergencies bring psychological stress to the victims. As such, the first responders, law enforcement officers, and the police should be able to work with mental health professionals to address these public concerns in emergencies.

Public servants can use co-responder programs that can allow them to share their community’s data across different platforms. Through the collective actions of the first responders and governing bodies in the community, resolving or addressing the matters at hand will become much easier than having to deal with lengthy, bureaucratic processes.

Prioritizing the public’s mental and physical well-being might also break the cycle of behavioral health crises, incarceration, and homelessness. This is vital because the petty crimes done in emergencies may be matters of mental and behavioral health than just pure criminal intent.

Efficacy of Emergency Response in Solving the Mental Health Crisis

nurse taking a break

Like the availability of medically-trained experts in the field, mental health specialists should also be present during emergencies to cater to those in need. Many victims might not manifest physical complications, but their mental health can be suffering due to the emotional toll of the situation.

The basic services that your community must offer can include self-help and social support initiatives, psychological first-aid clinics, group interventions, clinical mental health care, and referral mechanisms for long-term treatment.

Having better mental health systems is crucial to the overall recovery of your community. It allows the affected individuals to develop feasible and appropriate coping mechanisms during emergencies, which can minimize the debilitating effects of traumatic situations.

This is not to say that the community you belong to should completely scrap the initiatives already in place to address emergency crises. But there should always be room for improvement and change, especially because the governing bodies need to put the welfare of the people as their top priority.

If the first responders, law enforcement officers, police, and other governing bodies in the community address the mental health crisis like any emergent situation, then the population dealing with unresolved behavioral and mental health conditions might be lessened.

Adequate basic mental health services during emergency crises are not only nice to have, but they are also a necessity in every community. Giving mental health awareness the priority it deserves can help more people address their real concerns instead of treating the crisis like an issue that will eventually go away on its own.

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