Faculty Articles

The mental health effects of sheltering-in-place: What counselors need to know

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Counseling Today


In every emergency event or disaster, there are two basic options for the public: evacuate or shelter-in-place (SIP). Historically, evacuation has received more attention by emergency response authorities largely due to mandated fire drills, natural and human-caused disaster planning, and recent tragedies such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene in 2011. However, in the event that evacuation is not feasible, such as during the search for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects on April 19, increased consideration is given to SIP as an effective emergency response measure.

Counselors working in an emergency or disaster setting must be aware of the implications of a SIP order to effectively assist individuals, families, emergency personnel, and communities.