Free Counseling Helps Children, Adults Cope With Disaster Effects

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Release date: 
July 23, 2010
Release Number: 
1918-023

BEAVER, W. Va. – June storms and flooding in West Virginia may have created ripple effects that are more difficult to measure than the height of flood water on a living room wall. The upheaval can affect the mental health of children and adults, sometimes in very different ways.

Several local mental health providers in West Virginia are partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help area residents for free.  They are taking referrals from FEMA and talking with applicants for FEMA assistance who want help coping with loss and changed circumstances.

Mental health professionals say that families should watch for signs of emotional stress. Here are a few suggestions from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources:

  • Spend time with the traumatized person and listen carefully
  • Allow some private time, too
  • Help with everyday tasks such as caring for the family or cleaning and cooking even if they have not asked for help
  • Don’t take negative feelings directed at you personally
  • Don’t say “you’re lucky it wasn’t worse.”  They won’t be consoled by this 
  • Do say you’re sorry the event occurred and you want to understand and help

Counselors are available for free confidential face-to-face help at Disaster Recovery Centers on the following schedule. No appointment is necessary and you do not have to register for FEMA assistance to receive counseling:

Hanover in Wyoming County
Hanover Head Start Center
Old Route 52 S. next to Huff Consolidated School
Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1-4 p.m.

Welch in McDowell County
National Guard Armory
600 Stewart St. on State Highway 16
Mondays and Wednesdays, 2-5 p.m.

Logan in Logan County
Logan High School
1 Wildcat Way
Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1-4 p.m.

If you’re having trouble coping – you can also seek professional help by phone from the following providers:

Lewis County Mental Health

United Summit Crisis Hotline: 304-623-5661 (ask for crisis worker)

Logan-Mingo Area Mental Health

Mingo-Chattaroy Crisis Hotline:304-235-2954 (ask for crisis worker)

Logan Crisis Hotline: 304-792-7130 (ask for crisis worker)

Southern Highlands Community Mental Health

McDowell / Wyoming Crisis Hotline: 304-425-0122 (ask for crisis worker)

Other Services

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 or TTY-1-800-799-4889

Neglect/Abuse Adults and Children: 1-800-352-6513

Domestic Violence: 1-800-799-7233

Children may be affected by upheaval in different ways than their parents. Here are some notes from the FEMA.gov Web site about possible reactions in children after a traumatic event.

  • Birth through 2 years.  These kids don’t have the words to describe the event or their feelings. However, they can retain memories of particular sights, sounds, or smells. Infants may react to trauma by being irritable, crying more than usual or wanting to be held and cuddled. The biggest influence on children of this age is how their parents cope. As children get older, their play may involve acting out elements of the traumatic event that occurred several years in the past.
  • Preschool - 3 through 6 years.  These youngsters often feel helpless and powerless in the face of an overwhelming event. Because of their age and small size, they lack the ability to protect themselves or others. As a result, they feel intense fear and insecurity about being separate...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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