PURVIS, Miss. – Mississippians facing the loss of their homes, businesses or cherished possessions after the recent tornadoes may be struggling also with the emotional impact of the disaster. It is not uncommon for those living through a disaster to suffer anxiety, sorrow and depression. These emotions can emerge days, weeks or even months later.
Everyone has a different way of coping. Many find that talking about what has happened with trusted friends or family helps them move forward. Seeking and accepting help from counseling services also can be effective and health-restoring.
Brochures and other information are available at the MEMA/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, at:
- Ben McNair Recreation Center, 300 North 12th Ave., Hattiesburg
- Lamar Park, 226 Pinewood Drive, Hattiesburg
Pine Belt Mental Health Resources, with offices in nine Mississippi counties, operates a crisis-counseling hotline: 601-544-4641. See the PBMHR website at www.pbmhr.com
A Disaster Distress Helpline is run by the federal government under the Department of Health and Human Services. Trained crisis counselors are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-985-5990. TTY is 800-846-8517. You can text the helpline as well: “TalkWithUs” to 66746.
You can reach the Mississippi Department of Mental Health for information and referrals to certified service providers online at http://www.dmh.ms.gov.
Some of the most common signs of stress include:
- Difficulty communicating or sleeping.
- Depression, sadness or feelings of hopelessness.
- Increased use of drugs and/or alcohol.
- Limited attention span and poor performance at work or school.
- Headaches and stomach problems, flu-like symptoms, disorientation or confusion.
- Reluctance to leave home (temporary agoraphobia).
- Mood swings and frequent bouts of crying.
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt and self-doubt.
Disaster-related anxiety can be especially acute among older adults, particularly those living alone and somewhat isolated from friends and family. It is not unusual for seniors to become withdrawn, agitated and disoriented in the wake of terrifying events. Family and others should be on the lookout for these and other stress-related problems and try to address them immediately.
Children also can be severely affected by a disaster. Some simple ways to help calm their anxieties include:
- Keeping routines as consistent as possible and answer questions openly and honestly at a level a child can understand.
- Allowing your kids to talk about the disaster. Listen to their concerns and questions. Let them know it is OK to feel angry or sad.
- Reassuring them that they are loved and will be cared for.
- Providing a peaceful household to the extent possible under the circumstances.
- Limiting their exposure to frank adult discussions and lurid news reports about the disaster.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.