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Counseling program provided emotional support to 500,000 survivors
TRENTON – The New Jersey Hope and Healing program, in which 200 counselors provided emotional support to 500,000 Superstorm Sandy survivors throughout the state, officially ended on February 14.The outreach initiative was funded with an $11 million Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant and administered through the Department of Human Services’ Disaster and Terrorism Branch (DTB). While a special hotline funded by the grant also has ended, another call line will make clinical referrals for residents who require continued assistance.
“Our Hope and Healing Counselors, in their bright yellow vests, were beacons of strength, structure and stability, restoring psychological balance to New Jersey’s Sandy survivors,” DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez said. “Many counselors left their own storm-ravaged homes to help others.”
The counselors canvassed affected neighborhoods and held support sessions for adults and children in town halls, restaurants, daycare centers, churches, and a wide variety of settings.
Although the Hope and Healing program has ended, clinical psychiatric services will continue to be available for people who are still recovering from the storm’s emotional impact, Commissioner Velez said.
“There is no deadline for emotional recovery after a disaster of this magnitude,” said DTB Director Adrienne Fessler-Belli. A call line - 866-202-HELP or 866-202-4357 –  operated by NJ Mental Health Cares and funded through a federal Social Services Block grant administered by DHS – has been set up for people who need referrals to appropriate clinical services.
DHS operated New Jersey Hope and Healing in partnership with the Mental Health Association of New Jersey (MHANJ), Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention and Family Services in Atlantic County and Family Services Bureau in Newark.
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