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How Mental Health Professionals Can Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey

How Mental Health Professionals Can Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey

As we continue to watch the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the victims of this tragedy, many might be wondering: what can I do to help? As a trained mental health professional, you have a unique set of skills and experiences that may be essential to helping victims of Hurricane Harvey. In this article, we’ll share the potential devastation that a natural disaster wreaks on mental health and how licensed professionals, even those outside of Texas, can help over the coming months to address this.

When a natural disaster strikes, the membership of the population undergo a shared experience of trauma – a feeling of overwhelming fear that things are out of their control. While some people walk away from trauma with little or no impacts on their mental health, many others will have trauma-related impacts on their mental functioning. These impacts can range from mild somatization, short-term grief, and mild anxiety to far more detrimental impacts, up to and including PTSD-symptoms. We know from research conducted on survivors of Hurricane Katrina, perhaps the most similar disaster in recent history, that those impacted by this kind of trauma are twice as likely to have a serious mental health condition. These may appear immediately or gradually over the weeks following the trauma.

To help ameliorate these impacts, the state of Texas has activated a statute at the discretion of the governor that allows the temporary suspension of license requirements to provide aid in the state. While these activities are monitored by hospitals and have other eligibility requirements, it means that licensed mental health professionals in any state may potentially travel to Texas and provide mental health care to those in need.

If you’re looking for a direct way to give back, the American Red Cross is deploying units of mental health professionals from across the country (for 1 – 2 weeks at a time) to provide mental health services. Both NASW and the AAMFT are encouraging interested members to contact the American Red Cross or local chapters of the associations to learn about eligibility and opportunities to volunteer over the coming months. For those who wish to give back but are unable to make the time and travel commitment, the organization is requesting monetary donations to support these efforts.

In times like these, we are reminded of the fragility of the things that make up our lives – our homes, our communities, ourselves. We also see the strength and resilience not just of survivor victims, but also those who commit to stepping in and providing help when it is needed. We see no greater commitment to helping provide affordable counseling for all than by seeing the need in Texas and doing what we can to help victims on their journey of trauma recovery.

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Jennifer N.
Posted on 09/02/2017 by Jennifer N.

Jennifer is a writer for OpenCounseling. She has worked at a number of state and non-profit organizations, providing counseling, training, and policy development



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