Department of Human Services | Crisis counselors deployed to flood victims
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For Immediate Release:
April 27, 2007

For Information, Contact:
Suzanne Esterman, (609) 292-3703

DHS mental health services division provides help managing emotional impact
TRENTON – Crisis counselors deployed by the Department of Human Services' Division of Mental Health Services are helping flood victims at shelters and resource centers throughout the state, Acting Commissioner Jennifer Velez announced today.As of this morning, the counselors have served more than 1,000 people in the six counties declared disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The emotional impact of going through something like this can be enormous,” Acting Commissioner Velez said. “It's devastating to be forced to leave your house or see it severely damaged. This isn't the first time for many of these families.”

“People often underestimate the effect a disaster can have on your mental health. We want to do all we can to help these victims deal with the stress of having their lives thrown in an upheaval,” said Assistant Commissioner of Mental Health Services Kevin Martone.

FEMA yesterday declared Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Passaic, Somerset and Union counties as disaster areas. DMHS' Disaster & Terrorism Branch (DTB), which oversees the crisis counseling during emergencies, deployed counselors to shelters and resource centers established by the American Red Cross to collaborate on mental health needs. DTB staff also is working with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management's Emergency Operations Center to assess needs.

More than 8,000 brochures on managing the emotional consequences on floods and storms have been distributed throughout the state as well as to a committee that focuses on services for persons with disabilities. A PowerPoint video with the same information has been posted on DMHS website's DTB page:

The toll-free hotline number is 877-294-HELP (4357)

Bilingual volunteer counselors are being recruited statewide.

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