San Juan, Puerto Rico -- The Puerto Rico Health Department has received an initial grant award of $50,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Immediate Services Crisis Counseling Program, Commonwealth and federal officials have announced.
“This holiday season is a difficult period to some,” said Justo Hernandez, Federal Coordinating Officer. “People have suffered losses and they will be going through a difficult process. While it may be a long road to recovery to a few, there is assistance to deal with the stress they might be feeling, as well as, assistance to help them with their material losses.”
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in a joint effort with FEMA initiated an outreach campaign with mental health counselors. These mental health experts suggest a number of ways to relieve the symptoms of emotional distress caused by a traumatic event:
- Talk about your feelings with family, friends and neighbors.
- Get back into daily routines as soon as you can and try to maintain good eating and sleeping habits.
- Do some physical exercise every day.
- Reassure children that they are safe and sound; encourage them to talk about their fears; emphasize that they are not responsible for what happened.
Residents having difficulty coping with stress-induced problems should seek crisis counseling. To obtain this service, applicants should contact the Psychosocial First Aid (PAS, by its acronym in Spanish) Line at 1-800-981-0023. Counselors from the PR Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA, by its acronym in Spanish) are available at that line daily, 24 hours a day.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.