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TRENTON – The Christie Administration today announced the start of a clinical care program for Sandy survivors still recovering from the emotional effects of the storm. Through a $5 million Social Services Block Grant, the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) will partner with Rutgers’ University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC) to develop and fund a network of clinicians that will provide mental health and addiction services through 2015.“We know from our Hope & Healing counselors, who have been providing emotional support in the Sandy-impacted areas since last November, that the need for more formal, clinical assistance is essential for some residents,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “For many, the stress of the storm, extensive damage, haggling with insurance companies and working to regain some semblance of normalcy has taken a psychological toll.”

As part of the effort to identify individuals eligible for mental health or addiction services, DHS and UBHC will launch an informational campaign to raise awareness and encourage people to get the help they need.

“Sandy may have triggered anxiety or depressive symptoms for some residents and exacerbated it for others, who may have been struggling emotionally before the storm,” said Chris Kosseff, president and chief executive officer of UBHC. “With this program, we will direct residents in need to the professionals who can help them.”

No one who lives through a disaster is untouched by the experience.  Natural and man-made large-scale emergencies often cause emotional distress, threaten a person’s sense of control and safety, and can affect many aspects of their lives.  Emotional trauma and anxiety about what will happen next can complicate and impede recovery.

DHS’ Disaster and Terrorism Branch issues a fact sheet detailing typical emotional reactions to disasters, which include:


•  Recurring dreams or nightmares about the event; 

•  Trouble concentrating or remembering things; 

•  Feeling numb, withdrawn or disconnected; 

•  Disturbances in eating and sleeping patterns; 

•  Having bursts of anger or intense irritability; 

•  Persistent physical symptoms (i.e., headaches, digestive problems, muscle tension, etc.); 

•  Being overprotective of your family’s safety; 

•  Avoiding reminders of the violent events or evacuation; or

•  Being tearful or crying for no apparent reason

If these emotions intensify, rather than subside with time, clinical services may be necessary.

To qualify for a referral, individuals must have lived at the time of the storm in one of the nine counties hardest hit: Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Union and Ocean.

Eligible individuals should call 1-866-202-HELP to be referred to a clinician. 

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