Caring for Your Behavioral Health After a Disaster
A disaster can be large or small and can occur with or without warning. No one who lives through a disaster is untouched by the experience. Just as it can take months to rebuild damaged building, it takes time to grieve loss and rebuild lives.
Distress is often a normal reaction to an abnormal or unusual situation. Not everyone will have an emotional reaction to an event, and those who do will react in their own unique way. Children are especially vulnerable both during and after a disaster. Children, as well as adults, need to express themselves. It is important to encourage all survivors to talk about their experience. Provide time for closeness, monitor media exposure to disaster trauma, maintain routines as much as possible, spend time with family and friends, involve children in preparation of family emergency kits and home drills, encourage exercise and physical activities and set gentle but firm limits for acting out behaviors.
BBH houses the behavioral health disaster program. For more information, please contact the BBH Disaster Coordinator, Elliott.H.Birckhead@wv.gov. A diverse pool of behavioral health professionals and community responders provide emotional and/or social needs support to the individuals and communities impacted by disasters or emergencies.
- HELP304 As part of BBH’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in partnership with FEMA and SAMHSA, the State is funding an emotional strength line: HELP304. This service is for anyone experiencing stress or anxiety. Healthcare and social service workers who are dealing with pandemic-related stress are especially encouraged to call. Callers are immediately linked with a professional crisis counselor. If a caller requires a deeper level of care or other referrals, the caller is provided with additional help, such as for addictions, mental health, and social services. Callers can reach HELP304 at 1-877-HELP-304 via telephone or text, or chat online at www.help304.com.
- National Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster.
For Behavioral Health Providers