Our nation has experienced a series of unprecedented disasters in recent weeks, including three major hurricanes and a horrific attack that occurred in Las Vegas last Sunday night. In the midst of these great dangers, we repeatedly observe heroism and courage as our fellow Americans provided care and assisted others to safety. We recognize and honor those who have been impacted directly, their families and friends, and the heroic first responders and good samaritans who risked their lives to save others. Our SAMHSA staff also have families who have been impacted. We mourn the loss of innocent lives and the terrible injuries sustained by many others.The pain and devastation of these experiences are felt by so many of us and our fellow citizens as we all seek to recover. We at SAMHSA
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With Hurricane Harvey continuing to intensify today and expected to make landfall late tonight near Corpus Christi, Texas, Department of Health and Human Services personnel and resources have already deployed. HHS is aggressively preparing to help all Americans in the path of what might be the strongest hurricane to strike the United States in more than a decade.
Experienced HHS emergency personnel mobilized earlier this week and are committed to taking every action possible to protect and aid the Texans and Louisianans in harm’s way. HHS Secretary, Tom Price, M.D., has also already spoken with the governors of Texas and Louisiana to assure them of our assistance.
Over the past several weeks, communities across the nation have experienced incidents of violence. From Baton Rouge to Dallas, the news of these shootings has been a distressing part of daily life. In response, SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services has reached out to the affected communities offering support and behavioral health resources.
What SAMHSA is doing
SAMHSA released an announcement offering the help of our Disaster Distress Helpline for those who may be affected by the tragedies. Our web site highlights tip sheets and supportive materials for survivors. There, you will find the following guides to help during the difficult times after a traumatic event:
As the nation recognizes the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina—one of the most devastating and expensive natural disasters in our history—individuals, families, and communities that were directly affected continue to recover.
Hurricanes and other natural disasters can lead to emotional distress in those who experience them. Survivors (including children and teens), loved ones of victims, and first responders are all at risk, and disaster anniversaries can re-trigger some of that emotional distress.
By: Anne Mathews Younes, Director, Division of Prevention, Traumatic Stress, and Special Programs
The people of Boston have shown incredible resilience in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15. I have firsthand knowledge of this strength and sense of community. I lived in Boston for 25 years and I ran in and completed the Boston Marathon some years ago.
The Marathon brings a diverse group of people together as a community to celebrate persistence and accomplishment. It is that same sense of community and resilience that will help people cope with this disaster and the complex emotions that arise from it.
The headlines coming out of Connecticut are heartbreaking and our thoughts are with those affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.Questions are many at a time like this. How can we cope with the tragedy? How can we speak about the events with young children? What can health professionals or emergency responders do at these times? How can we make our schools even safer? What other resources are available?