Coping during natural disasters

Natural disasters can be extremely stressful and frightening for anyone impacted either directly or indirectly. Students are likely to process the traumatic experiences in different ways. This activity is designed for students who have been directly impacted by a natural disaster. Students learn from the lived experiences of other young people and from the response of their community.

Year Level



60 minutes


  • In class activity

SEL Competencies

  • Self-management
  • Self-awareness

Learning Intention

Students use lived experience to evaluate how others have coped with natural disasters. They reflect on the strategies they have used and could use in the future.

Key Outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify that they are not alone in their experiences and feelings
  • reflect on the coping strategies they have used
  • describe coping strategies they could use in the future.
Activity 01

Exploration: You're not alone 30 min

This activity has been created for students who have been directly affected by a natural disaster.

In preparation for this lesson, it is suggested you access Be You's article 'Impact of natural disasters on mental health'.

Exploration: You’re not alone

  1. Explain to students that if they have been personally affected by a natural disaster they might be feeling lots of different emotions, such as shock, fear, stress, helplessness, sadness or even anger. It’s important to remind students that they are not alone in having these feelings, and to reach out for support if they are struggling.
  2. Provide students with access to or printed copies of the article ‘How to deal with the stress of bushfires, floods, earthquakes and cyclones’.
  3. Display and discuss, in turn, each of the seven strategies identified in the article:
    • Talk about how you’re feeling
    • Spend time with family and friends
    • Make time to chill
    • Focus on what you can control
    • Keep a regular routine
    • Turn to the community
    • Get extra support.
  4. For each strategy, discuss with students:
    • Why might it be helpful for dealing with the stress of a natural disaster?
    • Does it resonate with them? If so, what did/does this look like for them?

Tip: If students are using individual devices, encourage them to explore the links under each heading. They might have other ideas that aren’t included.