LINCROFT, N.J. -- When a disaster strikes, the damage is not limited to property and nature. The fallout from severe storms and flooding can cause significant emotional stress on top of the physical and financial demands of dealing with the aftermath. Since Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey in October 2013, the counselors and volunteers of New Jersey Hope and Healing have been helping affected residents cope.
New Jersey Hope and Healing is coordinated by the Disaster and Terrorism Branch of the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The organization provides advice and resources to victims of disasters who may be suffering mental and emotional distress.
After the storm hit, FEMA approved a grant of nearly $2 million for the Disaster and Terrorism Branch of New Jersey DHS, which sent mental health teams to shelters statewide at the beginning of the disaster and also sent specialists to FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.
“During a disaster everyone reacts differently – you can never judge yourself based on anyone else’s reaction,” said Adrienne Fessler Belli, NJDHS Disaster and Terrorism Branch Director. “Our program will be able to help individuals at any stage of recovery from this disaster.”
The organization continues to conduct outreach programs and events to raise awareness of stress management and help direct residents seeking help to the appropriate services. These services will come to an end in February 2014. Recently, NJHH launched the Sandy Wave Riders program, a support group for families and caregivers impacted by Sandy, in several counties. The Sunnyside Up program put counselors in 16 Ocean County diners and restaurants to offer emotional support, referrals and resources.
New Jersey Hope and Healing has partnered with other health and assistance organizations, including the Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention, NJHelps.org, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the VA Veterans Hotline, New Jersey Mental Health Cares, the National Foundation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the New Jersey Housing Resource Center.
The New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Hope and Healing Helpline is open from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week at 877-294-4357 or TTY (Text Telephone) 877-294-4356. All calls are confidential. The organization has materials in English and Spanish, downloadable from www.disastermentalhealthnj.com or www.mhanj.org/new-jersey-hope-and-healing/. Events and photos can be found on the NJHH Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NJHopeandHealing.
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