Facing Fear: Crisis Communication and Disaster Behavioral Health

Risk & Crisis Communication
Online Course
2 hours
University of Alabama
South Central PERLC

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The fields of crisis communication and disaster behavioral health have knowledge that can be mutually beneficial when disaster strikes. In the aftermath of a disaster, effective communication with the public plays a critical role in determining whether or not the public adheres to recommendations from officials. Understanding how individuals and groups behave in emergencies allows for messaging that is more likely to be understood and acted upon. In turn, effective messages can minimize helplessness and foster resilience. This presentation will discuss disaster mental health myths that can be expected in media coverage and which should be dispelled when possible. It will examine the ways in which psychological responses to disasters influence people’s behaviors. Principles of crisis communications will also be reviewed. Finally, the areas in which communication can address psychological and behavioral responses will be covered.

Learning Objectives: 
  • Be able to list basic assumptions about life that are violated by disasters
  • Be able to outline factors that influence people’s assessment of risk and their level of fear
  • Be familiar with principles of crisis communication