Disaster response and mental health : working towards psychological well-being for volunteers
Coleman, Donna Ruth
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The world encounters disasters and emergencies. Volunteers respond to support those who experienced the situation, and as such, the need to support their psychological well-being is paramount. This phenomenological qualitative research considers how organizations can better support volunteers’ psychological well-being before, during and after deployment to an emergency or disaster. The research compares the theories from evidence-based studies and the current practice of five Canadian organizations. Interviews with five organizations and 20 volunteers illuminated themes correlated with scholarly literature to establish 12 guidelines that were reviewed for interpretation and feedback by four subject matter experts. The result is 13 practical recommendations for organizations to implement to support their volunteers’ psychological well-being. These recommendations include a comprehensive application process, training that supports psychological well-being, psychological support provided during and post-deployment, the encouragement of self-care practices, and an integrated and comprehensive framework that reinforces psychological health and safety throughout the volunteer experience.
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