American Red Cross disaster relief volunteer Camille Frey arrived in Colorado Wednesday to support flood relief efforts. Frey, a part-time licensed clinical counselor in Louisville, Ky., will put her professional experience and Red Cross training to use as a disaster mental health service associate.
“People coming in from a disaster don’t know what they’re supposed to do, where they’re supposed to go, how they’re supposed to feel. I know I can bring comfort and direction to folks out there,” Frey said.
Following disasters, many affected residents experience increased stress and depression. She hopes to give Colorado residents a new, positive focus and relieve some of their stress by listening, comforting, and offering referrals to community organizations that will help them get the resources needed to return to a normal life.
“I will give them an opportunity to talk, scream—do whatever they need to do,” Frey said.
In her career, Frey’s focus is on health and sports. She works with people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her patients range from military members who have experienced war to civilians who have been injured at work or in a car accident. She uses methods of Positive Psychology to help her patients manage stress and work though the oft times overwhelming steps to recovery.
“I’m very good at what I do. It’s hard to explain,” she said. “I can meet someone in despair, and they have a smile on their face by the time I leave. I help break things down—give them a solution in small steps.”
Frey’s first experience as a Red Cross disaster mental health volunteer came following the 2012 Southern Indiana tornadoes. She was part of a team that made house calls and visited hospitals to see how affected residents were coping. She also provided support to relief workers who were dealing with stress.
“I checked to see how the responders were doing,” she said. “I visited with them and offered to talk.”
Another important part of Frey’s role while deployed will be to serve as a liaison to other organizations providing mental health services. She has trained with other agencies to better understand the mental health services each provides following a disaster. By working together, organizations help each other determine the community’s needs which differ with each disaster and each family’s loss.
“Every response is different, so you just have to be open and help where you can,” Frey said. “People have lost their property, or people or pets. Pets are like their children.”
Having lived in Colorado for many years, Frey is looking forward to helping communities where friends still reside.
“It’ll be nice going home to see all of those people.”
American Red Cross disaster mental health provides crisis interventions, mental health screening and assessment, emotional care and support, referrals, advocacy mediation, consultation, psychosocial education, and mobilization and psychological triage. On critical incidents, spiritual care and child care will provide services as a component of disaster mental health.