Disaster social work practice

In light of the recent uptick of natural disasters, the American Red Cross is implementing the Health Professionals Direct Deployment Process for volunteers to support the response efforts, inviting health and mental health professionals to volunteer in communities that have been affected.

During a major disaster event, the Direct Deployment Process allows professionals who are eligible to support Disaster Mental Health or Disaster Health Services, but who are not currently Red Cross volunteers, to deploy as Red Cross volunteers. This initiative covers the volunteers’ transportation, housing, food, and incidental costs while they are deployed, as well as pre-deployment training. Deployments begin at 3-days/week to 9-day commitments depending on your location, and many U.S.states allow state employees paid leave to deploy when there are emergency declarations. The greatest need for social workers is typically within disaster mental health services. While individuals can volunteer in many capacities, this position specifically calls for qualified individuals that hold a Master’s Degree in social work or a related field; and hold a current, unencumbered license from, or is registered with, any U.S. state or territory as a social worker or another related professional license. Retired professionals can also be eligible for deployment. To learn more, please visit: https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/disaster-health-mental-health-volunteer.html

Recovery efforts will continue for months following the disaster, so even if you cannot respond immediately, you may wish to explore volunteering for deployment at a later date. And even after deployments are discontinued, disaster recovery will continue for years after a major event.