Emotional Support

Participants in the Joplin Memorial WalkAfter a disaster, survivors look for emotional and spiritual support to find meaning in the chaos. In Joplin, we sought what we called our new normal–communicating under new circumstances, dealing with new trauma, and trying to support each other in the best manner we could with the resources that were available.  Several amazing programs emerged in Joplin–some that were developed from examples from other communities and some that developed organically due to the specific circumstances in Joplin.

It is our hope that the following resources provide the basis for developing similar programs in other communities as well as points of discussion when planning for disasters.

Community-Based Emotional Support

Within the first 90 days post tornado, the LTRC Emotional/Spiritual Support Subcommittee (in other documents also called “Crisis Counseling Subcommittee”) put together a listing of community resources for emotional and spArt Feeds child art, paper spread out on the street and decorated with children actively making artiritual support.  All listings were put in a binder and given to school personnel, faith leaders and disaster case managers. This binder served as a basis for disaster workers to link people in need with the appropriate resources for their emotional and spiritual health. The binder included specific resources (as well as practitioners) for children, adults, seniors, and English as a Second Language populations.

Joplin Area LTRC Crisis Services Flowchart

How To Help Young Children After Trauma

How to Regain Your Emotional Balance

LTRC Crisis Counseling Information Sheet

Quick Tips foPhoto of a child making artr Personal Well-being

Several community Long Term Recovery Committee organization members provided emotional support programs that helped facilitate positive outcomes for our community.  Examples of such programs include:

  • Childcare Aware of Missouri, an agency of The Council of Churches of the Ozarks, provided Comfort for Kids Kits.
  • Art Feeds provides innovative programs for children in schools, daycare programs, churches, and other community facilities that use art as therapy. To learn about their methods, visit their methods page.
  • The Joplin Family Y partnered with FEMA and other LTRC members to develop and manage the Human Services Campus at the large community of FEMA Temporary Housing Units. The Human Services Campus provided a “one-stop-shop” location for survivors to get resources, support, and much more. At the campus, emotional and spiritual support materials were available and counseling visits often occurred.


Faith-Based St. Mary's Catholic Church SteepleEmotional Support

Faith-based support was extremely important to the recovery of our community. Nearly 20 churches were destroyed in the tornado. After the disaster,  it was amazing to see the faith community come together, sharing spaces and working to help people without regard to denomination.  The Joplin Area Ministerial Alliance helped to facilitate much of the faith community recovery and collaboration. Many members of the LTRC Emotional and Spiritual Support Committee were members of the Ministerial Alliance. Specific examples of faith-based emotional support include:

  • Camp Noah is a camp developed by Lutheran Social Services to help youth after a disaster, helping instill confidence and a sense of security for children. The camp came to Joplin and was a huge benefit to the youth that participated.
  • Presbyterian Disaster Relief Workshops
  • For listings of other disaster relief organizations, including faith-based organizations, visit the Disaster Center agency page.


School-Based Mental Health

Thousands of Joplin school children were directly affected by the tornado and needed a variety of emotional support.

Joplin Schools Project HOPE Program Evaluation

The LTRC Emotional and Spiritual Support committee also worked to provide resources to educators and parents, including:


Professional Mental Health


Support for Disaster Workers and Volunteers

One component that we found extremely important in our journey was the need for support for caregivers or those providing emergency services. Even if these individuals were not directly impacted by the physical tornado, they had their own emotional and spiritual needs in the wake of the tornado and the support they were providing others. When developing programs, make sure that you include components that offer “compassion fatigue” support or care for the caregiver. When you support those doing the work, you ensure longer, more effective community recovery.


Resiliency Efforts

As a community, we are making efforts to improve our resiliency. The COAD partners continue to develop programs that focus on preparedness that will improve outcomes should another disaster occur in our community. The following represent a few resiliency efforts nationally as well as in the Joplin community.Butterfly Mural