Resources and Guidance for Activated Members

SPEAKING WITH EMPATHY:

People deal with stressful situations in various ways.  Even people with the same type of trauma experience it in unique ways depending on many different factors such as their existing support system, past history of trauma, presence of children or other dependents, extent of damage, age and life experience, education level, cultural group membership, socio-economic status, etc.  While there is no set way to interact with every disaster survivor, using empathy is key. 

DO:

  • Be respectful of differences among people.
  • Listen respectfully as people express emotions such as anger, sadness, confusion, and frustration.
  • Validate their feelings and express that what they are feeling is a normal reaction to a very abnormal situation.
  • Be an active and authentic listener (sometimes people just need to feel heard). 
  • Paraphrase the caller occasionally to let them know that you are listening and to ensure you have a complete understanding of what they have said.
  • Use phrases such as “I am so sorry you are going through this right now” to express compassion in a sensitive way.
  • Clarify what type of assistance you are providing early on in the conversation so that expectations are not heightened unrealistically.
  • Realize that there will be limitations to the help that you can provide and that you might not know all the answers.

DON’T:

  • Appear flippant about their situation or experience.
  • Try to connect with them by drawing comparisons between experiences you might have had and their current experience.  Keep the conversation focused on them.
  • Use clichéd statements such as:
    • “everything happens for a reason”
    • “I understand your pain”
    • “at least you still have your health”
    • “You will get through this” 
  • Take survivor’s negative attitudes personally.  Their frustration and anger is not your fault and cannot be remedied by you.

 

Additional Resources:

 

SELF-CARE:

Everyone is touched by a disaster, including those who assist individuals who have been impacted by a disaster.  During your disaster relief service, you might hear things that are extremely unpleasant and this can lead to compassion fatigue.  Having realistic expectations of this service time, as well as strategies to help you cope with the additional stress, will be incredibly important. 

Self-care is the regimen that we practice in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health, especially during times of heightened stress.  For people in helping professions, good self-care is a necessity.  Please take some time to think about your individual self-care plan as you start your disaster relief service.  Self-care activities are highly individualized and can include activities such as meditation, dinner with friends, quality time spent with family, and exercise. 

Please click here to access self-care resources including a template to help you create your self-care plan and think through barriers to self-care.  

 

MENTAL HEALTH CARE:

Some members might feel that, in addition to good self-care, they would benefit from further assistance from professional mental health services.

  • If you are a student, please contact your university or college to find out what mental health resources are available to you.  Many institutions provide short-term counseling and other services to assist students. 
  • If you have medical insurance, please contact your insurance company to learn more about mental health care options covered by your plan. 
  • Contact your supervisor to see if your organization provides assistance or additional options for mental health care services. 

Additional Resources:

  • General Referral Line, database of services available in surrounding areas: 211
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7): 1-800-273-8255

 

REGIONAL RESOURCES:

Central Texas:

We will continue to update with additional regional resources as we compile them.  If you are aware of local mental health or self-care resources, please send them to Betty Jo Schafer (bettyjo@onestarfoundation.org) and cc your Program Officer to add to this compilation.