Mental Health Preparedness and Disaster Response Poll

Mental health professionals were surveyed on preparedness.

February 12, 2013, Adelphi CHI Poll: Mental Health Preparedness and Disaster Response

Key Takeaways from this Adelphi University CHI Poll: 

  • A community disaster refers to both man-made (such as a school shooting) and natural (such as a hurricane) events—and can strike at any moment. Yet nearly half of mental health professionals in the Northeast (48 percent), South (48 percent) and West (46 percent) feel their community’s mental health system is unprepared for a community disaster, compared to 41 percent of the country overall. Midwesterners feel differently—only 21 percent say their community’s system is unprepared.
  • Emergency Preparedness Lacking: When a disaster or emergency hits a community, mental health treatment is often disrupted. To avoid this, mental health professionals should plan ahead, but many do not. Ninety-two percent of these professionals don’t have a clinical will in place in case of an emergency. Further, 82 percent haven’t discussed a contingency plan with their clients and 65 percent haven’t discussed alternative ways for clients to reach them. The list continues: More than half (52 percent) don’t have referrals available in case they’re unreachable and nearly half (46 percent) haven’t backed up their files digitally.

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement: There is a public stigma in my community associated with being treated for mental illness.

Response Percent
Agree strongly 27%
Agree somewhat 63%
Disagree somewhat 9%
Disagree strongly 1%
Quick Facts Percent
Agree 90%
Disagree 10%

Currently, how prepared or unprepared is your community’s mental health system for a community disaster?

Response Percent
Very prepared 3%
Somewhat prepared 56%
Not very prepared 35%
Not at all prepared 6%
Quick Facts Percent
Agree 59%
Disagree 41%

Which of the following measures, if any, do you currently have in place in case of an emergency?

Response Percent
All of my files are backed up digitally. 54%
I have referrals available in case I am unreachable. 48%
All of my files are backed up on paper. 37%
I have discussed alternative ways for my clients to reach me. 35%
I have discussed a contingency plan with my clients. 18%
I have prepared a clinical will. 8%
Other 8%
None of these 10%

Poll Methodology: The Adelphi University CHI Poll was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 100 mental health professionals, defined as psychologists, psychiatrists, LICSWs, LISWs and CSW-Cs, between January 25 and February 4, 2013, using an email invitation and an online survey.