As part of its mission, Disaster Behavioral Health Services assists the Texas Division of Emergency Management's state- and local-level emergency management planning efforts related to behavioral health issues in coordination with the Emergency and Risk Management Division of Health and Human Services. Disaster Behavioral Health Services staff serve as subject matter experts and participate in many disaster behavioral health-related preparedness activities.
Disaster Behavioral Health Services is responsible for managing disaster behavioral health preparedness, response and recovery efforts for Texas before, during and after a local-, state- and federally-declared disasters, emergencies and incidents. Depending on the size and scope of the incident, these services might include:
- Providing behavioral health-related technical assistance and information regarding best practices for state- and local-level Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program-compliant exercises.
- Coordinating the inclusion of disaster behavioral health best practices and resources in federal, state and local emergency management and disaster preparedness, response and recovery planning efforts.
- Coordinating the deployment of available disaster behavioral health resources in response to State of Texas Assistance Requests.
- Providing and coordinating technical assistance to Texas Disaster District chairs and committees related to behavioral health issues arising during and after disasters.
- Providing behavioral health-related technical assistance, best practices, tools and psychoeducational materials to state and local emergency management officials and first responders.
- Coordinating the provision of acute and ongoing stress management and crisis counseling services for disaster survivors, crime victims and survivors, and emergency responders through local Emergency Operations Centers, the State Operations Center or the State Medical Operations Center.
- Coordinating activities of the Texas Critical Incident Stress Management Network.
- Coordinating activities of Behavioral Health Incident Response Teams, as available.
- Preparing and submitting the State application(s) for the Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grants.
- Administer, provide technical assistance, and monitor compliance of Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant staff and providers.
- Providing and coordinating the required Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program training and education for Local Mental Health Authority staff and other providers participating in the grant program.
Local Mental Health Authorities are among the first to respond to disaster behavioral health needs in their areas. Response and recovery activities might include providing acute and ongoing stress management and counseling services to evacuees in shelters, temporary housing, schools, animal and agricultural facilities.