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TRENTON – Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez today announced that New Jersey has received nearly $2 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant money to facilitate extended crisis counseling for survivors of Hurricane Sandy through a program called New Jersey Hope and Healing. “Restoring survivors’ emotional and psychological balance is a fundamental factor in New Jersey’s rebuilding process,” said Commissioner Velez.  “The crisis counseling being provided through the New Jersey Hope and Healing program will be an important component in healing and easing the  sense of loss and helplessness brought on by the impact of  Hurricane Sandy.”

The Disaster and Terrorism Branch (DTB) of DHS’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) applied for and received a $1.94 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expand the availability of in-person crisis counseling to Sandy survivors.

Separate from the grant, but an essential component to “Hope and Healing,” the operation of a special disaster mental health crisis helpline will be expanded to 16 hours a day seven days a week. The hotline -

1-877-294-4357, TTY:

1-877-294-4356 – is a joint partnership between DMHAS and the Mental Health Association of New Jersey.

Though hundreds of specially trained counselors have been deployed by DTB – to help thousands of victims in the immediate aftermath of Sandy, the FEMA funds will pay for 120 more, through December 29th.

“Many New Jerseyans are upset, stressed or depressed as a result of the storm, loss of property, displacement and other related issues,” said Carolyn Beauchamp, Chief Executive Officer at the NJ Mental Health Association. “We encourage residents who are experiencing these symptoms to call the New Jersey Disaster Mental Health Helpline for free, confidential, emotional support.”

Individuals affected by a disaster and trauma may show signs of irritability, poor concentration, depression, hopelessness, isolation and grief or they may experience nightmares, flashbacks, new or worsening health problems and unusual alcohol, tobacco and drug use.

Outreach and support efforts aim to promote resilience through the use of good support systems and coping techniques, including sharing feelings, maintaining routine and seeking professional advice

.“FEMA recognizes that recovery comes in many forms; helping people heal from the mental strains of a disaster is extremely important,” said Mike Hall, Federal Coordinating Officer. “When survivors are able to make well thought out decisions for themselves, their recovery typically happens sooner.”

DTB and MHANJ maintain an ongoing relationship with the hotline as well as the creation and operation of New Jersey’s Disaster Response Crisis Counselor (DRCC) certification and training initiative, which educates volunteers who help in the immediate response to any natural or man-made disaster.

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