In a continuing effort to provide emotional comfort to survivors of Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services has provided $54,498 in funding to the University of Medicine and Dentistry to perform crisis counseling.

Hurricane Sandy Emotion
Sandy Huffaker, Getty Images

The grant will be used to fund mobile therapeutic services in the hardest hit communities and a helpline at 1-855-HOPE4U1.

“Many families continue to face stressful challenges from the storm such as relocation and rebuilding,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez.  “Evidence shows that reaching people as early as possible after a disaster will minimize any long-term emotional or mental health issues.”

Through a combination of outreach to the county Mental Health Administrators and contact with community and disaster workers, clinicians from UBHC will locate people in need of crisis support.

This will be done in person and telephonically, as appropriate. If further evaluation or therapies are recommended, individuals will be transferred to appropriate community providers for follow-up.

The mobile clinicians program will augment ongoing crisis counseling that is being provided through DMHAS’ Disaster and Terrorism Branch. In that program, specially-trained crisis counselors help survivors by providing emotional support, rather than the formal psychological therapy that will be provided through this new program.

"The emotional impact of Superstorm Sandy on New Jerseyans has been staggering.  Many have lost their homes, their sources of income and life treasures that cannot be replaced. Disaster survivors are in great need of support and – in some cases - clinical intervention to help them recover,” said Christopher Kosseff, CEO of the University Behavioral HealthCare division of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. “We will try to assist as many people as we can identify who will benefit from working with our professionals."

Initially, two UBHC clinicians will provide clinical outreach services in the most severely impacted communities through a combination of door-to-door visits and contact with community and disaster workers.  Services in the community will include individual clinical assessment, family sessions, therapy and support groups.

UBHC will coordinate their services with the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, which has been ‘on the ground’ working with residents since the storm.

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