Broadening the Mandate of the Incident Command System to Address Community Mental and Behavioral Health Effects as Part of the Federal Response to Disasters


Purpose of Review

In the United States, the Federal Incident Command System (ICS) directs response to major oil spills. Its initial imperative is to prevent immediate impacts on human health and safety. Subsequently, the ICS primarily turns its attention to environmental concerns, including considering vulnerable ecosystems. There is a growing body of evidence that disasters such as major oil spills lead to adverse psychosocial effects; yet, preventing such effects has not been formally incorporated into ICS disaster mitigation considerations.

Recent Findings

Community mental and behavioral effects are increasingly recognized as a significant impact of disasters. Standardized ecosystem analytical frameworks are key to ICS responses to its mandate for environmental protection. Similar frameworks have only begun to be developed for mental and behavioral effects.


Providing the ICS with a formal mandate would likely lead to the prevention of community mental and behavioral effects being more systematically incorporated into ICS disaster responses.

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Correspondence to Bernard D. Goldstein.

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Goldstein, B.D. Broadening the Mandate of the Incident Command System to Address Community Mental and Behavioral Health Effects as Part of the Federal Response to Disasters. Curr Envir Health Rpt (2020).

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  • Disaster response
  • Incident command system
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Deepwater horizon oil spill
  • Community health