In the weeks after disaster strikes, the path to recovery can pose many uncertainties. Something as routine as waking up for work or as pressing as completing home repairs can become daunting.
For disaster survivors who find themselves fatigued, short-tempered, suffering from depression, loss of appetite, hopelessness or sleeplessness, FEMA has paired with the State of Tennessee to offer free crisis counseling services until March 13.
Crisis counseling is available through the Tennessee Recovery Project at 865-255-6716. Survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use TTY can access the counseling program at the same number.
For a list of resources, disaster survivors can also call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or the Mobile Crisis Unit at 865-539-2409.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline is a national hotline dedicated to providing year-round immediate crisis counseling for people experiencing emotional distress related to any natural disaster.
Mental health professionals offer some suggestions to help cope with emotions after a disaster:
• Return to a daily routine as soon as possible.
• Maintain a healthy diet and sleep eight hours each night.
• Exercise every day, even if it is just walking.
• Spend extra time with people who may be more likely to experience stress-related emotions or confusion such as children and older friends or family members.
The free crisis counseling services are available to individuals and households and those who were working in or visiting Sevier County and were affected by the Nov. 28-Dec. 9 wildfires.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.