Emergency Assistance Available for Gustav Victims

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 General News
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 As the Gulf Coast bracesfor another potentially devastating hurricane, help is available to meetemergency mental health and addictions needs in the immediate aftermath of thestorm.

Established by National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare,Project Helping Hands will help behavioral healthcare organizations respond toemergency needs in any community affected by the storm.

It is estimated that up to 25 to 30 percent of people in the mostvulnerable communities experience new mental health and addictions problems inthe wake of disasters.

"The stress and emotional impact of yet another major disaster can causesevere worry and anxiety," said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of theNational Council. "Project Helping Hands can be an immediate resource forresidents who may be psychiatrically vulnerable and traumatized by the storm."

Rosenberg said that people who have to leave their homes -- seen as placesof safety and comfort -- can make the mental health challenges even morepronounced.

"The fear of losing your home, personal possessions, and even loved oneshelps to compound the anxiety that people feel," said Rosenberg.

Begun in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Project Helping Handsprovided modest grants to treatment organizations in several Gulf Coaststates. The grants were used to help with emergency needs like hiringtreatment staff, setting up emergency outreach offices, and purchasingmedications and emergency equipment.

"In the wake of disaster, community behavioral health providers mustaddress the critical needs of two groups -- those who experience the onset oftrauma and mental disorders as a result of the disaster and those with pre-existing serious mental illnesses and addictions who need continued care andtreatment," said Rosenberg. "Our pockets are not deep but we are standing byto help in any way we can."

More information about Project Helping Hands may be found atwww.TheNationalCouncil.org/HelpingHands.

The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,400 behavioral healthcare organizationsthat provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictionsdisorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communitiesacross the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to thefact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offeredin community settings help people with mental illnesses and addictiondisorders recover and lead productive lives.

CONTACT: Meena Dayak of the National Council for Community BehavioralHealthcare, +1-301-602-8474, MeenaD@thenationalcouncil.org

SOURCE National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare


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