“Recognize” Secondary Objectives
Legitimize the stress experience
Acknowledge that stress is a normal response to the abnormal situation of being exposed to and living with chronic environmental contamination (CEC). Doing so will help validate community members’ experiences and may be the first step in gaining or regaining a person’s or community’s trust.
Do not attempt to diagnose or treat individuals for mental health conditions. While educating local behavioral and mental health professionals about the unique aspects of CEC can be helpful, do not assume community members want or need mental health assistance after environmental contamination. Some may mistrust or feel stigmatized by mental health labels.
Communicate risk effectively
All intervening individuals speaking in public settings should be familiar with basic principles of effective risk communication (e.g., CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication and ATSDR’s Communication Toolkit) as well as the importance of cultural sensitivity in this domain. Avoid any language that might inadvertently blame the victim or dismiss concerns.