OBJECTIVE: To explore the putative phases of the psychological response to disaster: preimpact, impact, heroic, honeymoon, disillusionment, and recovery, and make recommendations for corresponding interventions. CONCLUSIONS: Disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic are often characterized by chaos and uncertainty. As a result, public health disaster planning and response represent formidable challenges. Although disasters can result from a wide array of hazards, regardless of the agent at work, they may follow a rather predictable trajectory of psychological phases. A heuristic of those phases can provide an opportunity for a more organized disaster mental health response and more efficient utilization of scarce resources.
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