WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) is offering small emergency grants and free Mental Health First Aid training to support mental health efforts in the wake of the devastating Haiti earthquake.
"Our thoughts are with the people of Haiti and with their loved ones in the U.S. We commend the efforts of many agencies and individuals that are providing disaster relief. Our pockets are not deep but we are standing by to help in any way we can," said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council.
Through its Project Helping Hands, the National Council offers small grants to organizations working to meet the mental health needs of Haitian survivors and loved ones in the U.S. Since 2005, Project Helping Hands has supported behavioral healthcare organizations responding to emergency mental health and addictions treatment needs in the wake of disaster -- hiring treatment staff, setting up emergency outreach offices, and purchasing medications and emergency equipment.
It is estimated that up to 25 to 30 percent of people in the most vulnerable communities experience the onset of trauma and mental disorders in the wake of disaster. These needs usually manifest several weeks to months after a disaster, as the reality of loss and displacement sinks in. Those with pre-existing serious mental illnesses may be traumatized anew or displaced and need extra care and support.
Haitian populations in the U.S., concerned about the safety and whereabouts of any loved ones in Haiti, may also be experiencing acute anxiety and stress reactions. Further, it is likely that the U.S. will see a significant influx of surviving Haitians over the coming months and a good number will likely experience mental health issues, in addition to the challenges of settling into a new culture.
Free Mental Health First Aid USA (www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org) training is available for volunteers headed to help in Haiti in the coming months and for community groups and caring citizens working with Haitian populations in the U.S.
Mental Health First Aid USA -- a collaboration of the National Council, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Missouri Department of Mental Health -- equips members of the public with skills and resources to help someone developing a mental health problem or save someone experiencing a mental health crisis. Those trained in Mental Health First Aid can recognize the risk factors and warning signs of mental illness and connect persons in need with appropriate professional or other help, including peer and family support.
Those who wish to support the Haiti disaster mental health response may donate to the National Council's Project Helping Hands at www.thenationalcouncil.org/cs/project_helping_hands.
The National Council is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,700 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country.
CONTACT: Meena Dayak of National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, +1-202-684-3728, MeenaD@thenationalcouncil.org
SOURCE National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare