The State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Disaster Behavioral Health Response Coordinator Dr. Curt H. Drennen and FEMA are coordinating to bring free crisis counseling to Weld and Larimer County residents who are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression as a result of the May 22 severe storms and tornadoes. Registration with FEMA for disaster assistance is not required to benefit from this program.
Crisis counseling staff will go door-to-door throughout the 39-mile tornado track in Weld and Larimer counties in an effort to make face to face contact with every affected resident of the tornado. Outreach workers will also be distributing support and recovery project brochures while offering in-person assistance to individuals and families.
In addition to distributing brochures, the teams will organize educational groups to re-create a sense of community among affected residents. Outreach workers will distribute information and make formal presentations to educate individuals and groups that may not know about the services and support systems that are available throughout the community.
Individual/family crisis counseling is available. Outreach workers will attempt to identify and refer those individuals who exhibit emotional and psychological symptoms to other community resources, including North Range Behavioral Health, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the United Way to name a few.
Couples affected by the storm will also be referred to Weld County's "Building Healthy Marriages" program that provides mental health support for families.
Employment and career workshops and counseling will also be available. These services will be provided free of charge. The contact number is 970-356-4000 Ext. 6225.
Services can also be obtained by calling one of the following contact numbers: 970-674-9573 or the 24-hour North Range Behavioral Health emergency services number: 970-347-2120.
Stress can surface in many forms and it often appears weeks or months after the traumatic event, mental health experts say. Common reactions to a disaster may include anger, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares, depression, inability to concentrate, hyperactivity and/or increased alcohol or drug use.
People of all ages may exhibit symptoms, but children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. Children especially can be vulnerable to disaster-related stress effects from interruption of daily routines and loss of the stability the home environment provides. Even second-hand exposure to the disaster through extensive media coverage can take an emotional toll on residents.
Mental health experts suggest a number of ways to relieve the symptoms of emotional distress:
- Talk about your feelings with family, friends and neighbors. Friends and family are good medicine, and sharing common experiences helps people overcome anxiety and feelings of helplessness.
- Get back into daily routines as soon as you can and try to maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep.
- Get some physical exercise every day.
- Children are particularly vulnerable and may exhibit symptoms including excessive fear of the dark, crying, fear of being alone and constant worry. Reassure children that they are safe. Encourage them to talk about their fears; emphasize that they are not responsible for what happened; hold and hug them frequently.
If you or someone you know is suffering from disaster-related stress, take advantage of this free program.
Individuals in Larimer and Weld counties can still register for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for those who have hearing or speech impairments. FEMA operators are available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, until further notice. Registration can also be c...