Mental Health After a Wildfire

Bridger Foothills Fire:

Individuals and families who have been displaced from their home can access support services, including mental health support, through the Red Cross by calling 1-800-272-6668

Anyone affected by the fire can access resources to deal with stress, trauma, and anxiety by calling the Help Center at 211, or 1-406-586-3333.  Those who call will be connected to local professionals who can help.

A natural disaster like a wildfire can have a significant impact on your emotional well-being. Take steps to ensure that you are taking care of your emotional needs during this time of crisis.

The aftermath of a wildfire can include mood swings, sleep disruption, and stress reactions. It is important to be alert to how you are feeling so that the emotions do not become overwhelming.

Feeling emotional after a disaster is normal, but there are things you can do to take care of yourself and others.

  • Find opportunities to spend time with other people so that you stay connected.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or adviser about what you are feeling.
  • Participate in activities that you enjoy.
  • Take frequent breaks from cleanup efforts.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Exercise (indoors if air quality is poor).
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene.
  • Avoid relying on substance like alcohol or marijuana for stress relief. During times of great stress, their use can be counterproductive and lead to more stress, anxiety, and physical symptoms.
Parents, pay close attention to your children’s emotional well-being. Pay attention to your child’s questions and let them know that you are there to listen. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be honest with your answers to your children’s questions, but don’t provide more information than necessary.
  • Validate your children’s feelings. They may be feeling scared, confused, or angry.
  • Provide opportunities for your children to talk and explore other outlets for them to express themselves like drawing or playing.
  • Limit exposure to media.
  • Avoid irrational promises like, “This won’t happen again.”
  • Maintain the same daily schedule as possible (e.g., bedtime rituals).
  • Ensure that your children are eating healthy food, exercising, and maintaining healthy sleep patterns.

Watch for Behavior Changes in Your Children

Children may cry more, act out, have some regressive behavior like bed-wetting, or show other changes in demeanor. These are normal stress responses and are usually temporary. Reassure your children that you are there for them. Watch for physical symptoms like stress-related stomach aches and head aches. To learn more about helping children cope with emergencies click here.

It may take a while before you feel back to normal. If you are experiencing any of the following, please seek professional help.

  • Difficulty managing your emotions
  • Trouble completing daily tasks
  • Caring for yourself or your family

The Help Center

  •  24-Hour Crisis Line and Suicide Outreach dial 406.586.3333
  • For information and referrals dial 211

Montana Red Cross

The American Red Cross of Montana has opened an evacuation center for those displaced by the Bridger Foothills Fire. Families in need of services can call the Montana Red Cross at 800-272-6668.

SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

More Resources:

Immediate Crisis:

Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Toll-Free, 24 hours, 7 days a week

Crisis Text Line: Text ‘mt’ to the number 741-741
Free, 24 hours, 7 days a week


Please contact us at:
406.582.3100 or