The mission of the Texas People Recovering In Spite of Devastating Events (P.R.I.D.E.) Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) is to assist individuals and communities in recovering from the effects of natural and human-caused disasters through community-based outreach and education.
The Texas P.R.I.D.E. CCP is funded by grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA funds mental health assistance and training activities in areas that have been presidentially declared a disaster. The Center for Mental Health Services, Emergency Mental Health and Traumatic Stress Services Branch, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, works with FEMA through an interagency agreement to provide technical assistance, consultation, and training for State and local mental health personnel, grant administration, and program oversight.
The Texas P.R.I.D.E. CCP is a program within the Disaster Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) Branch and provides short-term stress management and crisis counseling to individuals and groups experiencing psychological reactions to large-scale, presidentially declared disasters. By providing emotional support and interventions, Texas P.R.I.D.E. CCP helps survivors:
- Understand their current situation and reactions,
- Reduce stress and explore options,
- Explore, use, or develop coping strategies, and
- Link to people and resources that promote recovery to pre-disaster functioning.
The DBHS contracts with local State Mental Health Authorities (SMHA) to provide these confidential, free services. Crisis counseling funding is available to SMHAs through two grant programs:
- Immediate Services Program (ISP) that provides funds for up to 60 days of services immediately following a disaster declaration; and
- Regular Services Program (RSP) that provides funds for up to nine months following a disaster declaration.
- Strengths-Based – CCP services promote resilience, empowerment, and recovery.
- Anonymous – Crisis counselors do not classify, label, or diagnose people; no records or case files are kept.
- Free – The services are provided without any cost to participants.
- Outreach Oriented – Crisis counselors deliver services in the communities rather than waiting for survivors to seek assistance from them.
- Conducted in Nontraditional Settings – Crisis counseling services may take place in homes, retail outlets, places of worship, or any setting requested by a survivor. These services do not take place in clinical/office settings.
- Designed to Strengthen Existing Community Support Systems – The CCP supplements, but does not replace, existing community systems.
Individual Crisis Counseling – Helps survivors understand their reactions, improve coping strategies, review their options, and connect with other individuals and agencies that may assist them.
Basic Supportive or Educational Contact – General support and information on resources and services available to disaster survivors.
Group Crisis Counseling – Sessions led by trained crisis counselors who offer skills to help survivors cope with their situations and reactions.
Public Education – Information and education about typical reactions, helpful coping strategies, and available disaster-related resources.
Community Networking and Support – Relationship building with community resource organizations, faith-based groups, and local agencies.
Assessment, Referral, and Resource Linkage – Adult and child needs assessment and referral to additional disaster relief services or mental health or substance abuse treatment.
Development and Distribution of Educational Materials – Flyers, brochures, tip sheets, educational materials, and web site information developed and distributed by CCP staff.
Media and Public Service Announcements – Media activities and public messaging in partnership with local media outlets, State and local governments, charitable organizations, or other community brokers.
Disaster Crisis Counseling Versus Mental Health Treatment
The key difference between traditional mental health treatment and disaster crisis counseling is the way services are provided. Mental health treatment assists individuals for an existing mental health condition or disorder.
Typically, the mental health professional and client will discuss various treatment options and agree to certain interventions and treatment goals. In contrast, the goals of disaster crisis counseling during individual and group encounters are:
To engage survivors and responders,
- To encourage them to talk about their experiences,
- To teach them ways to manage stress, and
- Are free and occur in nontraditional settings such as homes, community centers, retail outlets, etc.
Crisis counselors also strive to enhance social and emotional connections to others in the community and promote effective coping strategies and resilience. Crisis counselors work closely with community organizations to familiarize themselves with available resources and to link survivors to needed services.
Texas P.R.I.D.E. Crisis Counseling Program
Disaster Behavioral Health Services
Texas Department of State Health Services
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division
Adult Mental Health Services
909 West 45th Street, Bldg. #552, Mail Code 2008
Austin, Texas 78751