ATLANTA, GA—Wednesday, August 24, 2016-- When a major disaster or emergency situation occurs, the American Red Cross knows that the people affected not only need food and shelter, but also emotional support. They are anxious; they may be stressed or worried at their current situation and what they face in the days and weeks ahead.
Mental health counselors from Georgia are available to help people in Louisiana cope with the tremendous emotional upheaval a flood can cause. The trauma of watching your home flood, rescuing beloved pets and cherished keepsakes, locating family members and dealing with injuries sustained during an evacuation can last for many years, unless it is addressed promptly and compassionately.
Licensed mental health specialists deploy to assist victims with the new reality they are facing, and offer support to Red Cross staff who are often away from home, working long hours with little sleep. Over the next several weeks, mental health counselors will be working from around Georgia as call agents, conducting client interviews by phone to assess clients’ needs and to determine appropriate assistance. The information gathered will be entered electronically for follow-up by caseworkers in the affected regions.
Mental Health teams have been part of Red Cross Disaster Services dating back to the early 1990s. Then the goal was to provide support to volunteers on a disaster relief operation. The mission has expanded over the years to meet the types of needs seen during responses like the Orlando, FL Pulse nightclub shooting, events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. As knowledge has increased regarding the psychological impact of traumatic and disaster-related events, the contributions of Disaster Mental Health (DMH) volunteers have become increasingly important.
Most Red Cross chapters or regions have a DMH team which is made up of independently-licensed master’s level (or higher) mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional clinical counselors, nurses with specialty certification, school psychologists and school counselors. Members of these teams respond at the local level supporting responses like storm-related events and can also be deployed to larger relief operations outside their local area.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org orcruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.