Distress is an understandable and normal response to trauma. Common causes of distress may be related to having been directly at risk from the events, being concerned about family and friends, witnessing injuries and the distress of others or being caught up in the panic and confusion at the time. In addition, feelings and memories related to previous experiences of disasters or other grief and loss may resurface. For some, where the harm has been caused intentionally, this may be an added source of stress and generate a sense of insecurity or distrust.

For most people, these feelings usually settle over the early weeks, particularly as practical problems are solved and support provided. However, sometimes it is only later when frightening thoughts or images are recalled that some of the stressful effects start to show. While most people will manage with the support of family and friends, there are still times when someone may need some extra help and support.

People who readily use formal and informal support from family, friends or other support organisations are generally found to recover better from stressful situations. Sharing the information on this website with family and friends may help you, and help them to better support you.

Mental health information and support services

As the impact of a major incident, such as a flood or other severe weather, continues to become evident, so may the persistent feelings of isolation, distress, anxiety and, in some cases, depression. If you think you or someone you know needs assistance to cope with these or any other symptoms you should contact your regular GP or local Mental Health Service.

Other useful contacts for assistance and advice include:

  • State Mental Health Telephone Access Line – 1800 011 511, press ‘Option 1’ to be transferred to your nearest Community Mental Health Drug & Alcohol Service
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14, confidential telephone counselling
  • MensLine Australia – 1300 789 978, confidential telephone counselling for men
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800, telephone counselling
  • beyondblue - 1300 224 636, information and referral line
    These services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Disaster mental health manual

The Disaster Mental Health Manual and associated handbooks are intended as a resource for mental health staff who are seeking background information and practical guidance and resources to assist in a disaster mental health response.

The Disaster Mental Health Manual is composed of eight general chapters and the additional practice handbooks deal with core elements of:

Additional resources

Current as at: Tuesday 24 January 2023