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Disaster Psychosocial Services Program

The Disaster Psychosocial Services Program is responsible for the development and provision of psychosocial strategies.
About us

The DPS Program provides psychosocial services upon request and with the agreement of the impacted community.

During COVID-19 measures, we may deploy our DPS Volunteer Network services virtually or in person. See details under the tab:  "What we do".

The statutory authority for the DPS Program currently lies under the BC Emergency Program Act's Regulations, Schedule 2 - Duties of Ministers and Government Corporations in the Event of an Emergency, Minister of Health and Minister of Social Services (for unaccompanied children). The regulations specific to the mandate of the DPS program is currently under review and in the approval process.

The BC Emergency Program Act defines local authorities as responsible for first response, and we are working towards the immediate activation of the support services along with the other response groups.   

Disaster Psychosocial Services (DPS) Program accountabilities include:

  • Reporting to PHSA's Health Emergency Management BC.
  • Leading the development of a long-term DPS strategy for BC in consultation with provincial stakeholders.
  • Providing provincial leadership, in-depth knowledge and a global perspective in preparing for the psychosocial impacts that occur with extreme events.
  • Providing psychosocial response capacity across the province via the Disaster Psychosocial Services (DPS) Program's volunteer network and/or building community capacity across health regions.
  • Supporting the effective integration across emergency management systems by including internal and external partners and stakeholders in provincial planning forums.
  • Leading the development, coordination and implementation of province-wide disaster psychosocial frameworks, strategies, policies, procedures, and performance standards and measures.
  • Collaborating and coordinating with Emergency Management BC and other stakeholders for the delivery of a sustainable and comprehensive pre, during and post-disaster psychosocial services for the public and responders.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Disaster Psychosocial (DPS) volunteer network, please note that volunteers are screened to ensure they meet the necessary competencies.

These competencies include but are not limited to:

  • education, training and experience equivalent to a Bachelor's degree in a related field
  • minimum of five (5) years' recent and related experience working with clients in the field of social work, mental health, counselling, crisis response, or similar profession.
Visit the Disaster Psychosocial volunteer network to apply and to learn more.

The Disaster Psychosocial Services (DPS) volunteer network is comprised of volunteers including registered professionals and paraprofessionals from: 

  • BC College of Social Workers
  • College of Psychologists of BC
  • BC Association of Clinical Counselors
  • Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association
  • Police Victim Services of BC
  • Canadian Association for Spiritual Care

DPS volunteers are managed by the Provincial DPS Team, under Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC), a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). The DPS Council has representatives from each of the above professional groups, as well as the Canadian Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and Emergency Social Services. 

What we do

COVID-19 Measures

During the current COVID-19 period, DPS may provide its services virtually or in person. 

These include: 

  1. Individual Psychological First Aid (PFA) Telephone Support: This is a brief (usually 30 minute) telephone consultation for adults who might want support and information about how they can better cope with the stress they are experiencing. This is a toll free service. 
  2. Mini Psychosocial Education Sessions for Groups: A DPS volunteer can connect by phone or videoconference into an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) or other locality to provide a brief psychosocial education session on managing stress, self-care and coping tips. Wellness resources can also be made available. 
  3. Psychosocial Support at a Team Operational Debrief: A DPS volunteer can connect by phone or teleconference into a debrief to help support an EOC or Emergency Support Services (ESS) team during an operational debrief. This support can be helpful should the operational debrief involve particularly stressful issues or events.
  4. In person deployments: The above services may also be given in person if the COVID-19 safety measures have been met and meets the needs of the community best.

As availability allows, local psychosocial volunteers from the various professional mental health and para-professional associations will be deployed to the site(s), and volunteers from the surrounding regions would be a second alternative.

Program services

  • Community assessment of needs
  • Collaborative planning with community stakeholders
  • Activation of volunteer network
  • Deployment of DPS Volunteers

Direct services

  • Psychological First Aid
  • Assessment
    • One to one support
    • Crisis counselling
    • Consultation
  • Outreach, advocacy
  • Stress management sessions – individual, group or town hall sessions
  • Provision of educational materials

The DPS program provides training for DPS volunteers and a wide variety of responder groups and their communities. 

Free Online Courses

  1. Introduction to Emergency Support Services
  2. Introduction to Disaster Psychosocial Services

Psychological First Aid (PFA)   

Psychological First Aid training provides first responders with the knowledge to assist people who have been affected by disasters. PFA is provided within days of a disaster to reduce the initial distress caused by an event and to help those affected by fostering short-term and long-term coping skills.

New session dates to be confirmed

Wellness Exchange (WE) Virtual Sessions

The Wellness Exchange is a free skill-building curriculum consisting of five modules offered in weekly, virtual sessions that are 60 minutes in length. It provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on our well-being, actively identify what we need, and consider strategies that help us enhance our wellbeing.

The Wellness Exchange is available to anyone who is interested in building additional skills around resiliency and coping. It is offered in a virtual group format with a focus on self-reflection and opportunities for interaction. Participants can join as few or as many sessions as they want. 

Problem Solving
Tuesday, January 16, 2024: 7-8pm (PST)

Thursday, January 18, 2024: 12-1pm (PST)

Positive Activities
Tuesday, January 23, 2024: 7-8pm (PST)

Thursday, January 25, 2024: 12-1pm (PST)

Managing Reactions
Tuesday, January 30, 2024: 7-8pm (PST)

Thursday, February 1, 2024: 12-1pm (PST)

Helpful Thinking
Tuesday, February 6, 2024: 7-8pm (PST)

Thursday, February 8, 2024: 12-1pm (PST)

Healthy ConnectionsTuesday, February 13, 2024: 7-8pm (PST)

Thursday, February 15, 2024: 12-1pm (PST)

Recorded Webinars

Inquire about a training in your community: 

Mental Health and Wellness Resources

Community Recovery Toolkit - revised Sept 2023

Counselling and Crisis Lines Flyer - revised July 2023

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SOURCE: Disaster Psychosocial Services Program ( )
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