Because of its devastating impact and the associated emotional trauma, additional in-depth mental health support was a clear need in the wake of the Washington landslide. When Red Cross disaster mental health specialist Ellin Ruffner consulted with community leaders and residents to develop a long-term emotional health strategy, they worried for their children, who seemed to be suffering the most.
“Their community will never look the same, so 100 percent of the students are directly impacted,” said Megan Lucas, a full-time school counselor. “If they are living with everyday trauma, this impacts their ability to learn.”
Responding to this need, the Red Cross joined forces with the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation, United Way and North Counties Family Services, hiring Lucas to work directly with more than 180 children in grades K-8. Through group sessions, such as “Lunch Bunch” and “Art with Heart,” she is helping affected students understand their shared grief and better cope with their traumatic experience.
The Red Cross is funding Camp Noah, a locally hosted event for elementary-age children whose communities are impacted by disaster. “Camp Noah is a fun and safe environment where they can face their fears and address their grief,” Ruffner said. “This way, they can be kids, play and build resiliency at the same time.”