Disaster Behavioral Health Consortium

Disaster Behavioral Health Consortium

The purpose of the Disaster Behavioral Health (DBH) Consortium is to facilitate communication and increase coordination between disaster behavioral health response agencies during state and federal disasters or critical incidents.  The DBH Consortium does not function as a response team.  Rather, each agency acts independently and performs their respective functions during a disaster.  The DBH Consortium serves as a planning and information sharing body which supports the Incident Command System (ICS) through ongoing coordination of local, regional and state behavioral health resources.


  1. Facilitate communication between response agencies during state and federal disasters or critical incidents
  2. Provide technical assistance and recommendations to the Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) Disaster Behavioral Health Services branch regarding best practices in early psychological interventions
  3. Serve as the catalyst for developing similar consortia at the local/regional levels
  4. Facilitate collaborative efforts that could potentially secure funding for training, capacity building, response, and recovery projects


The DBH Consortium is currently comprised of the following entities:

  1. DSHS MHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Services
  2. DSHS Response and Recovery Unit
  3. Health and Human Services Commission
  4. Texas Division of Emergency Management
  5. Texas Department of Public Safety Office of Psychological Services
  6. Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Division
  7. Office of the Attorney General Victim Services/Consumer Rights
  8. Texas School Safety Center
  9. Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
  10. American Red Cross
  11. National Association of Social Workers-Texas Chapter
  12. Texas Psychological Association
  13. Others as deemed necessary

Agency / program overviews and links to websites

Texas Department of State Health Services

Disaster Behavioral Health Services Branch (DBHS)

DBHS’ mission is to provide acute and ongoing services and training for victims,  survivors, and responders that will lessen the adverse behavioral health effects that may result from their involvement in natural or man-made traumatic events.  The Texas       State Emergency Management Plan designates the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) as the State Mental Health Authority.  As the designated State Mental Health Authority, DSHS leads the response, recovery, and coordination of disaster behavioral  health services provided in the event a state or federal disaster is declared. This includes public health, mental health, and substance abuse components.  State Hospitals, Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs), Outreach, Screening, Assessment, and Referral          (OSAR), and Substance Abuse treatment providers are responsible for pre-disaster preparation, as well as response and recovery efforts needed to ensure patient and client safety for behavioral health assets.

Under the DSHS Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division and the Adult Mental Health Services Unit, the DBHS Branch is responsible for providing and managing disaster behavioral health preparedness, response, and recovery efforts for Texas during and after a state or federally declared emergency.  These services include:

  1. Activating and coordinating acute and ongoing stress management and crisis counseling services for disaster victims, survivors, and emergency responders;
  2. Providing and managing stress management and crisis counseling services at the local level through trained disaster behavioral health staff;
  3. Providing pre- and post-disaster behavioral health training and education for LMHA staff and other providers involved in the Texas P.R.I.D.E Crisis Counseling Program (CCP),
  4. Providing education, services, and intervention strategies to emergency service personnel, including dispatchers, who have experienced a critical incident such as line of duty death, death of a child, multiple casualty/fatality scenes, etc. through the Texas Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Network and;
  5. Providing best practices tools and educational materials for contractors, victims, survivors, and responders.

Community Preparedness Response and Recovery Unit

Community Preparedness Response and Recovery Unit is dedicated to preparing, staffing, and training HHS enterprise employees to respond to state-wide disasters, building partnerships with both public and private organizations through agreements and contracts that are used in disaster response, managing disaster response resources, and developing operational guides and procedures for disaster response. The unit provides tactical communications capacity for disaster response and supports the Texas Public Health Information Network. This unit will serve as the agency’s emergency operations center, monitoring the state 24/7/365 for potential public health emergencies.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission

The Enterprise Risk Management and Safety (ERM) serves as the Safety Officer as part of the Command Staff at the State Medical Operations Center, and if activated and deployed to assist with a health and medical response.  ERM provides shelter safety checklists, safety plans for the health and medical operation, deployed staff, and other areas of emergency management safety.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)

Texas Division of Emergency Management

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) coordinates the state emergency management program, which is intended to ensure the state and its local governments respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters, and implement plans and programs to help prevent or lessen the impact of emergencies and disasters.

TDEM implements programs to increase public awareness about threats and hazards, coordinates emergency planning, provides an extensive array of specialized training for emergency responders and local officials, and administers disaster recovery and hazard mitigation programs in the State of Texas.

State Mass Care Coordination assesses the overall mass care needs created by the incident and coordinates the activation and deployment of the volunteer sheltering and feeding task forces and the assignment of state resources to fill in disaster-response gaps as requested from the local jurisdictions.

Texas DPS Office of Psychological Services

The Office of Psychological Services (OPS) maintains responsibility for the following programs:

  1. Victim Services ensures that victims of violent crime are afforded the rights granted by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  2. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides support, education, referral and brief counseling services to employees and their families.
  3. The Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), provides crisis response to employees and their families following exposure to critical incidents and traumatic events.  The DPS CIRT is part of the Department of State Health Services Critical Incident Stress Management Network. 
  4. The Volunteer Chaplain Program provides crisis intervention and spiritual counseling services upon request to employees and their families
  5. Department Veteran Assistance program (DVAP) provides peer support and other resources to all DPS military veteran employees, including current Guard and Reserve employees. 

During emergencies or disasters involving terrorism or other criminal acts which result in or threaten multiple casualties/injuries, OPS counselors will assume primary responsibility for responding to the needs of crime victims, witnesses (secondary victims) and their family members. Immediate service provision may include crisis counseling, basic support services, death notifications, and a liaison function. Secondary responsibility, in coordination with CIRT peer members and chaplains, will be to provide support services to first responders. 

OPS Counselors and DPS chaplains will provide primary/secondary victims with follow-up victim assistance services, including applying for Crime Victim Compensation, whenever feasible.

Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Division

The Criminal Justice Division (CJD) promotes strategies that improve and support criminal justice efforts across Texas by directing funding to first responders and service providers through the administration of grants from a variety of state and federal sources. Resources are dedicated towards programs that protect people from crime, reduce the number of crimes committed, respond to the needs of crime victims and promote accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness within the criminal justice system.  Through the Victims of Crime Act, assistance administrator is responsible for obtaining federal grant funding to support long term mental health support for victims of a mass violence event.

Attorney General of Texas Crime Victim Services

The Crime Victim Services Division mission is to assist in the compassionate and effective delivery of crime victim services by offering information, resources and financial assistance to crime victims and the organizations that assist them.

In the event that the disaster is a criminal event (mass shooting, terrorist action for example), the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program reimburses out-of-pocket expenses to victims of violent crime and their families.  The Crime Victims' Compensation Fund can help eligible victims pay for medical and counseling bills incurred because of the crime and can help families cover the cost of the funeral for a loved one who has been killed.

Texas School Safety Center

The Texas School Safety Center is a clearinghouse for research, training, and technical assistance pertaining to safe and healthy schools and communities. Tasked in both the Texas Governor’s Five Year Homeland Security Strategic Plan, and in Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code, the Center serves all public schools and junior colleges in the State of Texas with matters pertaining to school safety and security. Center activities include assisting schools in planning, training, and drilling for school and community disasters across all phases of emergency management. Although the Center does not offer direct services with regard to Disaster Behavioral Health, when the Center receives a request for such services, the Center contacts the appropriate agency to provide these services to educational institutions. With regard to the consortium, the Center plays a key role in ensuring that, as the Texas DBH model is developed, individuals who provide Disaster Behavioral Health Services to youth have the specialized training required to do so.

Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster – Texas VOAD

Represent the Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. Texas VOAD is a humanitarian association of independent voluntary organizations who may be active in all phases of disaster. Its mission is to foster efficient, streamlined service delivery to people affected by disaster, while eliminating unnecessary duplication of effort, through cooperation in the four phases of disaster: preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation. Through this work Texas VOAD assists families impacted by disaster behavioral health issues.

American Red Cross

The mission of American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health (DMH) is to respond to the psychosocial needs of communities and people affected by disaster, including Red Cross disaster responders, across the disaster cycle, which includes preparedness, response and recovery.

DMH values are consistent with those espoused by the professions of the DMH eligible disciplines and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

National Association of Social Workers-Texas Chapter (NASW/TX)

NASW/TX is the Texas Chapter of the largest professional association of Social Workers in the United States.  The mission statement is “NASW Texas is a professional membership association that advocates for social workers, advances the profession of social work and promotes sound public policy that is designed to ensure that human needs are met”. 60% of all mental health services are provided by social workers and NASW/TX has many members who wish to be engaged in assisting the State in the event(s) of an emergency and/or disaster.

Texas Psychological Association (TPA)

The Texas Psychological Association is the professional organization for psychologists in the state. Founded in 1947, TPA’s mission is to represent and enhance the profession of psychology in Texas, while promoting human health and welfare through education, science, and practice. TPA’s purpose is to advance psychology as a science, profession and as a means of promoting human welfare by the encouragement of psychology in all its branches in the broadest and most liberal manner; by the promotion of research in psychology and the improvement of research methods and conditions; by the improvement of the qualifications and usefulness of psychologists through high standards of professional ethics, conduct, education, training and achievement; by the increase and diffusion of psychological knowledge through meetings, professional contacts, reports, papers, discussions and publications; thereby to advance scientific interest and inquiry, and to foster the application of psychology in the promotion of the public welfare.


Last updated March 2, 2016