Extension and Mental Health Resiliency duringTimes of Disaster and Recovery

January 27th, 2021

Develop the resiliency skills needed to work through emotional stress. This presentation was originally part of the EDEN’s 2020 Annual Meeting. This virtual session was conducted on September 24 by Sherry Nelson (University of Missouri Extension), Lynette Black (Oregon State University Extension), Linda Tannehill (University of Alaska Extension), Cathy Pearson (Texas A&M Extension).

Disasters are local events, and Extension professionals are often called to help the community when they occur. Thus, it is important to be prepared and ready for these events. However, it has been noted that after a disaster, those who do better are better equipped both physically and psychosocially (Ronan et. at., 2005). In addition, our National disaster response system is focused on the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This often leaves the rural farming and ranching communities lacking resources they may need to recover from a disaster, especially concerning behavioral health. The Extension system reaches many underserved and rural populations. Because they are closely linked with these communities, there is a level of comfort concerning working with an Extension Professional than with a mental health professional. This places the Extension Professional in a unique position to be experiencing disaster-related stress. This session aims to help you develop the resiliency skills needed to keep your schemas (the way we view the world) intact and help your colleagues and clientele work through their emotional stress. Additionally, to be able to recognize and encourage those individuals who are struggling to get professional help. Tips for Extension as an organization to foster employee support will also be covered.