Mental Health America today said local affiliates in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy are struggling to deliver vital services to fellow citizens and urged greater attention to the mental health impact of the disaster.
"We know that the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy affects the mental health of millions. Thousands of individuals with mental health conditions are without essential needs, including the medicine, counseling and supportive services on which they rely," said Wayne W. Lindstrom, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America.
"Our affiliates are lifelines that provide the support and services that make the difference for so many in times like these—and in the days and weeks ahead. But many are facing their own crises and their vital services have been cut off from the community."
The Mental Health America Affiliate in the Atlantic City area was hit hard and is struggling to deliver medicine and provide counseling.
In Monmouth County, phones are down and even cell phones don't respond.
In New York's Nassau County, staff from the Mental Health America Affiliate are volunteering in shelters where they will also sleep because their own offices and homes have been lost.
Dr. Lindstrom urged greater attention to the mental health impact of Sandy and issued an appeal to help local affiliates so they can continue the life-saving services they provide.
Individuals who wish to help can call Mental Health America's toll-free number between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time: 1-800-969-6642.
Dr. Lindstrom also called attention to other mental health resources that can provide assistance to those affected by Sandy:
The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week national service that offers phone- and text-based crisis counseling and support to people in distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, to help them move forward on the path of recovery. You may reach the Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or by texting "TalkWithUs" to 66746. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. The Helpline complements the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other disaster response capacities, and is available immediately anywhere within the United States. This service is provided under contract with SAMHSA by Mental Health America's New York City affiliate.
Mental Health America has prepared a fact sheet on Coping with the Stress of Natural Disasters.
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