Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) | Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)

The ANTHC CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) team of trained staff and behavioral health providers is standing by to support your mental health and well-being. You can reach out to CISM at any time. All communication is confidential.

As of June 1, 2021, the ANTHC Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team resumed pre-pandemic operations under the umbrella of the ANTHC Behavioral Health Wellness Clinic (BHWC). The CISM team is available to respond to on-campus critical incidents that affect employees working at ANTHC or ANMC. Curious about CISM? Keep on reading!

What is Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)?

CISM is a crisis response system based on a resilience model. It aims to:

  • Build resistance into a system before exposure to a critical incident occurs;
  • Help a system rebound after a critical incident;
  • Facilitate referrals for additional support to promote full recovery of all members in a system after a critical incident.

What are Critical Incidents?

A critical incident is a powerful, potentially traumatic event that initiates a crisis response. These events may overwhelm the coping ability of individuals or groups exposed to the incident. Here at ANTHC, we do not adhere to a list of events that we consider potentially traumatic; rather, we respond to events that result in critical incident stress.

What is Critical Incident Stress?

Critical incident stress is a state of heightened physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral arousal that accompanies the critical incident. For example, the ANTHC CISM team has responded to critical incidents involving sudden or unexpected loss of life and acute work-related stress. While different, each of these critical incidents share the heightened states of arousal that result in disrupted psychological balance, overwhelm of coping mechanisms, and subjective distress, impairment, or dysfunction.

What is a CISM Response Intervention?

At ANTHC, the CISM team advises organizational leadership on best practice approaches to supporting employees following a critical incident and provides private, confidential interventions to employees affected by a critical incident. A CISM response includes a crisis intervention that is temporary, active, and supportive of an individual or group during a period of extreme distress. Depending on characteristics of the critical incident, the crisis intervention may include group and individual interventions with the goals of:

  • Lowering emotional tension;
  • Stabilizing the person or group;
  • Mobilizing resources;
  • Mitigating the impact of the event;
  • Assuring people who may benefit from professional care receive appropriate referrals.

Who is on the CISM Team?

The ANTHC CISM team is comprised of people specially trained in the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation evidence-based framework. All team members are ANTHC employees and report to a Licensed behavioral health professional employed by the Behavioral Health Wellness Clinic. CISM team members follow a strict protocol to protect participant privacy and confidentiality. Team members are mandated reporters and are required to suspected abuse of a child or vulnerable adult.

How to Request CISM Support

To request CISM support, email

Please Include:

  • Your name
  • Department
  • Preferred contact information (phone and email)
  • The nature of your request

A member of the CISM team will respond to your email within 2 hours of the request, Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm. Requests received outside of these operating hours will be addressed the following business day.