OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Free crisis counseling is available to Oklahomans who may be suffering stress, anxiety or depression as a result of the recent severe storms, tornadoes and flooding.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) remind residents of the 20 Oklahoma counties declared by the President eligible for individual disaster assistance that counseling services are available and do not require registering with FEMA. The Oklahoma Mental Health Reach Out Information and Referral Hotline is 1-800-522-9054.
Federal Coordinating Officer Philip E. Parr said, "The purpose of crisis counseling is to help relieve grieving, stress, or emotional problems caused or aggravated by the disaster or its aftermath. We encourage everyone in the affected counties who needs assistance to take advantage of this program."
Common reactions to a disaster may include nightmares, difficulty sleeping, feelings of being overwhelmed, fear of the weather, anxiety about the future, difficulty making decisions, hopelessness, disappointment with outside help, headaches, increased anger or aggression, domestic violence, frustration and feelings of powerlessness. These symptoms can be exhibited by people of all ages.
State Coordinating Officer Fred W. Liebe said, "We should not overlook the mental stress a disaster can cause. This program can be vital to everyone who suffered, but especially children and older residents facing loss of daily routines and the stability of the home environment."
Even individuals who experience a disaster secondhand through exposure to extensive media coverage may be affected. Family counseling to overcome stress-related impact on family groups is an integral part of the program.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.