On Wednesday, September 28, Hurricane Ian struck Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, leaving in its wake a path of disaster. On Thursday afternoon, news outlets were reporting “widespread devastation” and calling it one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the United States. More than two million people were without power after Ian moved through Florida, and widespread flooding, damage, and storm surges have left many residents trapped or homeless.

Our research has shown that after catastrophes like Hurricane Ian, spiritual and emotional needs outweigh the number of helpers available. To overcome this critical gap in care, our team is sharing three free emotional and spiritual resources that take the guesswork out of helping.

Three Free Resources

First, we’re offering a basic training video for our trauma-informed Spiritual First Aid certification course. In the video, we introduce SFA, a biblically-based, research-backed course which equips helpers to confidently come alongside people in distress. We also briefly cover our proven BLESS CPR framework, which is a practical and easy-to-remember method for meeting the five most pressing needs people have after experiencing a trauma.

Research proves that providing this kind of immediate help following a disaster can reduce spiritual and emotional pain, speed recovery, and lead to long-term benefits.

Second, we’re offering a free resource pack that goes along with the video. The pack includes downloadable practical tools for responding to spiritual and emotional needs, including a BLESS CPR quick-reference, basic overview of trauma, 12 self-aid resilience practices, 20 encouraging verses, and more.

You can download both of these HERE (once you click, scroll to the bottom of that page and enter your name and email address to receive immediate access).

Especially for Church Leaders
woman holding phone with Church Mental Health Summit info on screen

woman holding phone with Church Mental Health Summit info on screen

Finally, we’re partnering with Hope Made Strong to offer a free online event on October 10—the Church Mental Health Summit. As disaster survivors look for help, they’re more likely to reach out to their pastors than to a trained counselor, but church leadership often feel unsure about meeting emotional needs. The summit’s goal is to equip people as pastors, leaders, and volunteers, empowering them (and their congregations) to build a culture of care in their churches.

Summit participants will hear from a diverse group of speakers (over 50 total) in four categories: Global Health, Community Health, Church Health, and Leadership Health. Attendees will learn how to break down the stigma of mental health and receive resources, tools, and strategies to help better serve those with emotional distress—and the people who care about them.

Please use and share these resources with people in your networks. The more equipped we become, the more confident we can be in helping survivors of Hurricane Ian–and other disasters.

Jamie Aten and Kent Annan co-direct the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College. Follow them on Twitter at @drjamieaten and @kentannan.