Following a natural disaster, the resulting emotional, mental, and financial setbacks can be overwhelming. People with mental health conditions face a uniquely challenging post-disaster journey, particularly if they experience disruptions to their treatment plans. While some events are beyond human control, a disaster’s impact can be lessened with helpful coping mechanisms and awareness of available resources.
CHADD has compiled a list of strategies and resources that may be helpful for the ADHD community.
- Pay attention. Certain behaviors, such as difficulty relating to peers, sleep problems, misbehavior, and bedwetting, are not uncommon in children with ADHD. Parents should also be aware that any new development of these behaviors could be associated with emotional trauma or anxiety. If this happens, consider contacting a professional.
- Encourage questions. Allow children to express their feelings and concerns. Offer answers that are age-appropriate and take into account the child’s maturity and development.
- Set reasonable expectations. Temporary drops in school performance as the child adjusts can be quite common. Know your child’s rights and work with the school to design or adapt a suitable education plan.
- Develop routines. Predictability and structure are important for children with ADHD and can be particularly crucial to re-establishing a sense of security in new surroundings. So, as much as possible, try to restore familiar routines and structures as soon you are able.
- Ask for help. Recovering from a traumatic event is a process that takes time. Reach out to your community for helpful resources.
- Alleviate stress. ADHD alone can introduce a multitude of stressors. This, compounded with the distress of a tragedy, can be overwhelming. Participate in memorials, engage in calming activities, and be attentive to your physical well-being.
- Talk to someone. Find a support system. This may be friends, family, church, and/or local support groups. Many individuals with ADHD are susceptible to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc. Having an outlet for emotions is important to maintaining a positive outlook.
- Re-establish a treatment plan. Look for doctors or mental health services in your area or contact a relief organization. For health insurance, you can also look to public healthcare plans and programs.
- Arrange a new schedule. Resuming a practical schedule can help reintroduce a sense of normalcy.
Resources following a crisis
Florida Disaster Recovery
- Children with ADHD are potentially eligible for services under either IDEA or Section 504. If your child was previously receiving assistance, speak with school administrators about resuming services. Additionally, the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act obligates school districts to make accommodations for displaced or homeless students.
- US Department of Education Regional Offices 1-800- USA-LEARN
- The federally funded Parent Training and Information Centers and Community Parent Resource Centers are located in each state to provide training and information to parents of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and to professionals who work with children. They can help parents advocate for their children’s educational rights.
Mental health and disaster recovery
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a series of programs aimed at providing crisis response professionals, public health officials, and others with information about how best to plan for and manage mental health and substance use components of their disaster response efforts. You can find these resources at Implementing Behavioral Health Crisis Care.
- US Department of Labor—Disaster Unemployment Assistance 1-866-4-USA- DOL)
Health care and prescription assistance
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Call or text 988 for immediate assistance.
- SAMSHA Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990
- RxHelp for assistance in paying for medications
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Current Disaster Resources
- Red Cross
- United Way