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Emergency response protocols generally focus on addressing the basic survival needs of survivors and, from a psychological trauma perspective, employing early interventions to trauma histories, mental health concerns, or few personal and emotional supports, intermediate and long-term assistance is needed, Peer support presents a cost-effective, accessible, personal, and community-driven approach to filling that need.

Peer support is widely regarded as an effective means of helping survivors of disaster through stress and trauma. A compliment to professional services, peer support provides individuals with the connection, understanding, validation, and support that are essential to the healing process. There are a number of models that have proven to be very effective in reducing anxiety, expediting the mental health intake and discharge process, and referring individuals to other services and community supports. This resource paper highlights some successful peer support programs initiated after recent disasters and provides recommendations for the expansion and broader integration of peer support initiatives. (National GAINS Center)
National GAINS Center
Rockville, MD
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services