Walk through most of the aid centers for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and you are more often than not going to see the following sign: “Need to Talk”.
Many of the survivors have lost all their worldly goods and there are buckets of trauma to impact in the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters to befall the United States.
Karen Winston, LCSW is one of many mental health professionals offering to counsel the affected. Winston has been meeting with Harvey’s victims to walk them through the trauma and help those who arrived with pre-existing mental health disorders.
According to the American Psychological Association, there may be few physical scars in such a catastrophe, but emotional wounds can run deep and create a toll on victims.
Volunteers at rescue centers go through an assessment to get victims to social workers, identify support systems, find out if they are having suicidal thoughts and asking if they feel safe.
Thousands of survivors of the epic 2016 floods in Louisiana still struggle with eating, sleeping and making decisions a year later. People with symptoms before storms, however, are more vulnerable to worsening illness after floodwaters recede. For instance, surveys before and after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012 found older adults with pre-hurricane depression had higher rates of post-hurricane PTSD according to the Natural Resource Defense Council.
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Source: NBC News, NRSC, Gary R’nel
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