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Managing Traumatic Stress: Adults&Kids Natural Disaters August 31, 2005 2:44 PM

The American Psychological Association has on its website an article entitled Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips from Recovering from Natural Disasters. Says the APA:

"Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events can aid you in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and help you along the path to recovery." What may happen to you may include:

  • Initial shock and denial are typical responses, but are normal protective reactions. "You may temporarily feel numb or disconnected from life."
  • As the initial shock subsides, you may feel intense and sometimes unpredictable feelings, including anxiety or depression.
  • Thoughts and behavior may be affected, including repeated memories and possible flashbacks. This may make concentration and sleep extremely difficult.
  • Anniversaries or events such as the sound of a siren may set off emotional triggers.
  • Personal relations often become strained.
  • Physical symptoms may accompany extreme stress.

Here are some things you can do for yourself, according to the APA:

  • Give yourself time to heal.
  • Ask for support. Find out about local support groups.
  • Communicate your experience in a way you feel comfortable. This can include keeping a diary.
  • Engage in healthy behaviors such as eating well and getting plenty of rest. Use relaxation techniques and avoid alcohol and drugs. Try to establish a routine.
  • Avoid making major life decisions such as a career change.

For taking care of your children, the APA advises:

  • Spend more time with your kids and let them be more dependent on you in the months to come. Physical affection is very comforting.
  • Provide play experiences. Younger children can share their feelings through drawing.
  • Encourage older children to speak with you and with one another. Constantly reassure them.
  • Try to restore routines to create a sense of security.
  • Reduce the number of times children see the news.

For those struggling to cope from afar, the APA advises:

  • Take a news break.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Keep things in perspective.
  • Find a productive way to help if you can.
  • Look for opportunities of self-discovery.

The APA advises that "individuals with prolonged reactions that disrupt their daily functioning should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional."

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 August 31, 2005 2:49 PM

The devastation and destruction of Hurricane Katrina has dominated all of our lives. Our hopes and prayers go out to all those who've been touched by this tragedy. Please enjoy these special WisdomFlash messages as a way of calming frazzled nerves. Also, remember the words of Helen Keller "The world is full of suffering, but is also filled with overcoming suffering".

Scott Martineau



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 August 31, 2005 3:38 PM

after you have watched 1 calming video, CLICK ON YOUR BACK ARROW IN YOUR BROWSER AND IT WILL RETURN YOU TO CLICK ON THE NEXT VIDEO. Didint' realize the links were in WHITE or would have changed the colour

Relax for abit and enjoy.

love, light, healing


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 August 31, 2005 3:46 PM

Seven Wonders

Dr. Wayne Dyer ~ Ten Secrets


Nathaniel Branden ~ Six Pillars of Self-Esteem


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Additional Help available May 11, 2006 10:36 AM

Mental Health Campaign Supports Hurricane Survivors

SAMHSA and the Ad Council recently launched an outreach campaign that includes public service announcements (PSAs) to help survivors of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

The Hurricane Mental Health Awareness Campaign's objective is to encourage and help adults, parents, caregivers, children, and first responders who may be experiencing psychological distress following these recent hurricanes to consider seeking mental health services.

The television and radio spots in both English and Spanish address the fears, concerns, and questions faced by survivors. These PSAs will be distributed to 12,000 media outlets nationwide.

In addition, SAMHSA has created a Web site of disaster relief information at The Web site includes a national hotline for survivors to call for assistance—1 (800) 789-2647. Publications, related topics, and important links are also posted (see Resources).

The PSAs

For adults, the PSA messages ask, "Having trouble coping? Help is waiting!" In Spanish, "¿Estás teniendo problemas enfrentando la situación? Puedes encontrar ayuda."

For parents and caregivers concerned about their children, one PSA asks, "What's going on in the mind of a child who's lived through a hurricane?" A child's voice answers, "You can drown in your bed if you fall asleep."

For first responders, one PSA explains, "Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is take care of yourself."


According to SAMHSA, past research on the mental health consequences of major floods and hurricanes suggests that the psychological effects of the recent disasters could be extensive. SAMHSA estimates that in areas devastated by the hurricanes, 25 to 30 percent of the population may experience clinically significant mental health needs and an additional 10 to 20 percent may show subclinical (but not trivial) needs.

Up to 500,000 people may be in need of assistance.

"Since the beginning of this unprecedented disaster, we have been concerned about the mental well-being of those affected by the storms," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

People who were displaced by the storms have lost their homes, schools, communities, places of worship, daily routines, social support, personal possessions, and much more. In some cases, the emotional toll includes the sorrow of losing a loved one or witnessing death, widespread destruction, and criminal violence.

The psychological impact of these experiences can be both serious and long-lasting. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder—including depression, grief, and anger—are to be expected. Survivors may also develop physical health and behavior problems, such as substance abuse disorders among adults and conduct problems among children in school or at home. Some of these problems may not surface for months or years.

"Most hurricane survivors demonstrate remarkable resiliency and will rebuild their lives without significant mental health or substance abuse issues," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. "We also know that there are a significant number of people who will have difficulty achieving recovery without professional assistance. And now help is a phone call away."

Who May Need Help

The campaign's PSAs aim to reach adult survivors and first responders directly, as well as parents and caregivers who can assess their children's emotional well-being. On the surface, it's obvious that survivors may need help; however, it is much less obvious that first responders may need help.

The effects of disasters on first responders—those emergency personnel and rescue workers who helped people survive these storms—may include mild or serious mental health problems from witnessing so much pain and suffering. Many turn to alcohol or drugs, too.

Viewers and listeners of the PSAs are asked to take time to check in on how they and their families are doing, and call a confidential toll-free number—1 (800) 789-2647 for adults/parents and 1 (800) 273-TALK for first responders—to speak to a trained professional who can assist with information and referrals to local services.

"As survivors struggle to rebuild their lives and focus on their immediate physical needs, it is important for them to also consider their short- and long-term emotional needs," said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. "This poignant campaign, created pro bono by Grey Advertising, will encourage victims to get help."

The PSAs are being distributed to television and radio stations nationwide via the FastChannel Network, and they will air in advertising time donated by the media.

For more information or to view the PSAs, visit the SAMHSA Web site at www.samhsa.govEnd of Article

1 (800) 789-2647 (adults/parents)
1 (800) 273-TALK (first responders)

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

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