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Emergency Assistance Available for Gustav Victims
Date:9/1/2008

Experts Available to Discuss Mental Health and Addictions Issues in the

Wake of Disaster

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the Gulf Coast braces for another potentially devastating hurricane, help is available to meet emergency mental health and addictions needs in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Established by National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, Project Helping Hands will help behavioral healthcare organizations respond to emergency needs in any community affected by the storm.

It is estimated that up to 25 to 30 percent of people in the most vulnerable communities experience new mental health and addictions problems in the wake of disasters.

"The stress and emotional impact of yet another major disaster can cause severe worry and anxiety," said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council. "Project Helping Hands can be an immediate resource for residents who may be psychiatrically vulnerable and traumatized by the storm."

Rosenberg said that people who have to leave their homes -- seen as places of safety and comfort -- can make the mental health challenges even more pronounced.

"The fear of losing your home, personal possessions, and even loved ones helps to compound the anxiety that people feel," said Rosenberg.

Begun in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Project Helping Hands provided modest grants to treatment organizations in several Gulf Coast states. The grants were used to help with emergency needs like hiring treatment staff, setting up emergency outreach offices, and purchasing medications and emergency equipment.

"In the wake of disaster, community behavioral health providers must address the critical needs of two groups -- those who experience the onset of trauma and mental disorders as a result of the disaster and those with pre- existing serious mental illnesses and addictions who need continued care and treatment," said Rosenberg. "Our pockets are not deep but we are standing by to help in any way we can."

More information about Project Helping Hands may be found at http://www.TheNationalCouncil.org/HelpingHands.

The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for- profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,400 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.

CONTACT: Meena Dayak of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, +1-301-602-8474, MeenaD@thenationalcouncil.org


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SOURCE National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
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