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Disaster Management Questions and Answers


  • What common reactions are seen in major disasters?
  • How is a crisis defined?
  • What types of problems should human services target?
  • What are the major viewpoints about the causes of problem behavior?
  • What is mutual help or self-help groups?
  • What potential hazards exist in the use of mutual help and self-help groups?


Common Reactions in Major Disasters

In major disasters, people often exhibit a range of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions. Some common reactions include shock, fear, anxiety, grief, confusion, anger, disbelief, and a sense of helplessness. Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, and sleep disturbances are also common. These reactions can vary widely among individuals and are generally considered normal responses to an abnormal situation. However, in some cases, these reactions can develop into more severe mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)

Definition of Crisis

A crisis is typically defined as a sudden and intense event or situation that poses a threat to an individual’s physical or emotional well-being, and that overwhelms their ability to cope using their usual resources and coping mechanisms. Crises can be personal (e.g., a death in the family), community-wide (e.g., natural disasters), or societal (e.g., economic downturns), and they often disrupt normal functioning and require immediate attention and intervention.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)

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Target Problems for Human Services

Human services should target a range of problems that individuals and communities face during and after crises. These problems may include providing immediate emergency assistance (shelter, food, medical care), addressing psychological and emotional needs (counseling, mental health support), aiding in rebuilding and recovery efforts, supporting vulnerable populations (children, elderly, disabled), and fostering community resilience to future crises.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)

Viewpoints about Causes of Problem Behavior

There are various viewpoints about the causes of problem behavior, especially in the context of crisis and disaster situations. These viewpoints can include:

  1. Biological Factors: Some believe that biological factors, such as genetics and brain chemistry, play a significant role in shaping how individuals respond to crises and their subsequent behaviors.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)
  2. Psychological Factors: Psychological factors like past trauma, coping skills, personality traits, and mental health conditions can influence how people react to crises and whether they engage in problem behaviors.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)
  3. Social and Environmental Factors: Societal factors such as poverty, lack of access to resources, social support systems, and exposure to violence can contribute to problem behaviors during and after crises.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)
  4. Cultural Factors: Cultural beliefs, values, and norms can shape how individuals and communities respond to crises and whether they seek help or engage in problem behaviors.

Mutual Help or Self-Help Groups

Mutual help or self-help groups are gatherings of individuals who share a common challenge, problem, or experience. These groups are typically organized and run by the members themselves, without professional facilitation. The primary goal of these groups is to provide support, empathy, and understanding to each other, sharing experiences, advice, and coping strategies. Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), grief support groups, and parenting groups.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)

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Hazards in Using Mutual Help and Self-Help Groups

While mutual help and self-help groups can be beneficial, there are potential hazards to consider:

  1. Lack of Professional Oversight: Without professional guidance, these groups might provide inaccurate information or advice that could be harmful.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)
  2. Unregulated Advice: Members may offer well-intentioned but potentially harmful advice, especially if their experiences do not align with best practices.
  3. Groupthink and Negative Influence: Peer pressure and group dynamics could lead individuals to adopt behaviors or beliefs that are not in their best interest.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)
  4. Exacerbating Problems: In some cases, the group setting could reinforce negative behaviors or provide a platform for individuals to share harmful experiences.
  5. Misdiagnosis: In the absence of professionals, there’s a risk of misdiagnosing mental health issues and offering inappropriate solutions.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)

To maximize the benefits and minimize the hazards, a balanced approach involving both self-help groups and professional guidance is often recommended.(Disaster Management Questions and Answers)


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