Boston University School of Public Health

Dealing with Stress in Disasters: Building Psychological Resilience

This is an introductory course offering CPH and RS — Free
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Time to Start

3-5 minutes


1.50 hours


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Disasters and emergencies are emotionally-charged events that occur with little, if any, warning. They can result in severe life-threatening situations, prevent vast segments of the population access to shelter, food, water, and medical care, and interfere with communication and transportation. Those affected often experience feelings of confusion, fear, hopelessness, sleeplessness, anxiety, grief, shock, guilt, and shame. Local public health workers and emergency responders assume the responsibility of ensuring the health and safety of affected people, helping them cope with the devastating situation, and re-establishing normal function. However, this responsibility can take a heavy toll on public health workers and emergency responders as well, particularly in emotionally-charged situations with widespread turmoil. Public health workers and emergency responders should be able to identify and cope with stressful situations and build psychological resilience to mitigate the emotional toll that emergencies and disasters take on them.

Tip for learners: This training is best viewed in full screen. 

(Coronavirus - COVID-19)

What You'll Learn

  • Summarize the biology and physiology of the stress response and the effects on health
  • Recognize three major types of stress as categorized by severity and chronicity
  • Identify the types of compassion fatigue, risk factors, and coping strategies
  • List attributes of psychological resilience and individual coping strategies
  • Describe other types of resilience (group, family, community, cultural, organizational)
  • Discuss the goals of Psychological First Aid (PFA) and five components when caring for others

Competency Terms

Emergency Preparedness and Response (all hazards)
Leadership & Systems Thinking Skills
Factors Impacting Effectiveness
Advocacy for Public Health

Related Occupations

Behavioral Health Professional
Community Health Worker
Health Educator
Health Officer
Home Health Worker
Human Resources Personnel
Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse
Other Management & Leadership
Other Professional
Public health - multiple occupations will benefit
Registered Nurse - Community Health Nurse
Social Services Counselor
Social Worker
Student - Professional & Scientific