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Disaster Distress Helpline Available for Hurricane Isaac



NEW YORK, NY – August 29, 2012 –Man-made and natural disasters such as hurricanes can have long-term psychological effects on some people exposed to them. Most people, with proper support, can cope with these challenging situations. The national Disaster Distress Helpline has trained crisis counselors available to provide 24/7 support to individuals and families experiencing emotional distress in relation to Hurricane Isaac and ongoing severe weather alerts.  The Helpline is a national hotline answered by a network of crisis call centers across the U.S., providing phone- and text-based support to people experiencing emotional distress before, during, and after disasters.

Populations most likely to suffer from distress related to tropical storms and hurricanes include survivors of previous disasters living in the impacted areas—especially children and teens—loved ones of victims and first responders, rescue and recovery workers. Distress symptoms can manifest as overwhelming anxiety, stress, confusion, isolation, and fear. For persons impacted by previous catastrophic events in their lives (such as Hurricane Katrina), new events can trigger troubling memories of prior experiences.

The Disaster Distress Helpline, a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) administered by Link2Health Solutions,  Inc. (a subsidiary of the Mental Health Association of New York City) is the first national multi-lingual hotline dedicated to providing crisis counseling to those struggling emotionally before, during or after disasters.

Link2Health Solutions urges all reporters to include Disaster Distress Helpline information in any piece they are writing on Hurricane Isaac. We also have experts on staff available for media for print, radio, or on-air segments. They include:

  • Christian Burgess, LMSW, Director, Disaster Distress Helpline
  • John Draper, PhD, MHA-NYC Vice President for Crisis and Behavioral Health Technology and Project Director, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Anyone experiencing distress in relation to Hurricane Isaac or any natural or human-caused disaster can call the Disaster Distress Helpline toll-free 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746 (Spanish-speakers can text ‘Hablanos’ to 66746); calls and texts are answered 24/7 by trained, caring crisis counselors from call centers throughout the U.S.

Visit the Disaster Distress Helpline online: http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov

The Disaster Distress Helpline provides a library of free resources available to the public in both English and Spanish. Resources can be downloaded and shared at: http://issuu.com/disasterdistresshelpline.

The Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC) is a non-profit organization that addresses mental health needs in New York City and across the nation. It is a local organization with national impact and has a three-part mission of services, advocacy and education. For over 40 years, MHA-NYC has identified unmet needs and worked to develop culturally sensitive services and programs to improve lives while promoting the importance of mental wellness.www.mhaofnyc.org

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