Help for Katrina evacuees in emotional distress - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Help for Katrina evacuees in emotional distress

November 23, 2005
from the Georgia Division for Mental Health

ATLANTA - The Georgia Division for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases (MHDDAD) has launched Project Hope, a crisis support program targeted to evacuees experiencing emotional stress in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Project Hope will be administered statewide through 11 Community Service Boards, as well as Behavioral Health Link, a 24-hour information and referral hotline. It is estimated that 90,000 evacuees currently reside in Georgia and may be in need of counseling.

The program is funded through a grant by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to partner with Georgia in developing a statewide program to assist disaster survivors. "We are finding that many Hurricane Katrina evacuees are experiencing a combination of reactions including confusion, fear, and hopelessness," said Gwen Skinner, Director for MHDDAD. "These are normal reactions to a traumatic situation. However, for those who are experiencing prolonged symptoms, we are providing 24/7 counseling through the 1-800-273-TALK helpline."

Evacuees can call at any time from anywhere in Georgia to talk to a trained worker who will listen and provide the caller with immediate access to professional counseling services in their area. Information is also available in Spanish. Hurricane Katrina evacuees, as well as families and friends who are supporting them, are eligible for assistance. Outreach services and counseling are also provided in homes, malls, and churches.