Anxious about storms and flooding? Local and online resources from the Mental Health & Recovery Board

With this week’s severe storms and flooding, residents may be experiencing more than usual anxiety and stress, according to the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County. 

Residents who are feeling emotional and in need of support can call the Townhall II 24-hour Helpline at 330-678-HELP (4357) or 1-866-449-8518. There is also TTY for deaf and hearing impaired at these local numbers. The helpline is funded through local levies overseen by the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.

“There are certain reactions that are the consequence of traumatic events no matter how big or how small,” according to Dr. Joel Mowrey, the executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board. “For some people a flooded basement can devastating or if you lose your crops or your business is damaged, those also can affect you very deeply.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most common reactions to a disaster or traumatic event include feeling numb, dazed or confused, anxious, sad, helpless or happy to be alive. Individual responses can include difficulty sleeping, paying attention or eating, short tempers, bad memories or dreams and becoming easily angered.

“These responses are normal to living through a disaster,” Mowrey said. “Learning about signs and symptoms can help families, individuals and organizations more forward.”

Children often experience different effects than an adult survivor. How the child responds to stress will depend on his or her age and how much the child witnessed. Talking about the event may scare the child even more, but falsely minimizing the situation will not end his or her concerns.

Due to children’s fears for their safety and sometimes feeling responsible for a situation, it is important to reassure them they will be safe and the event was not their fault, Mowrey explained.

“What parents and caregivers need to remember is that children and teens may not be able to verbalize what is bothering them so you will see changes in behavior,” he added.

For more information about potential reactions and ways to help children cope with disaster, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/pdf/helping-parents-cope-with-disaster.pdf

If you are unable to access the information online, call the Mental Health & Recovery Board at 330-673-1756, ext. 201, for printed materials.

No matter the reaction, the effects will take time to heal. A survivor of a disaster or traumatic event can take action to return his or her life back to normal. Following the normal daily routine, eating healthy, exercising regularly, staying busy, accepting help and talking about feelings will aid in the recovery process.

The CDC has additional resources regarding stress at http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/coping-with-stress-2013-508.pdf.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also has a Disaster Distress Helpline that provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling and support at 1-800-985-5990 and TTY for deaf/hearing impaired at 1-800-846-8517. You can text TalkWithUs to 66746 or visit at http://www.disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/.

If you or someone you know is having continuing trouble dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, ask for or suggest outside help. Talk to a counselor, doctor or faith community leader. Call the Mental Health & Recovery Board at 330-673-1756, ext. 201, for referral information to local community-based agencies.

If you are worried that there is a risk of suicide, call the 24-hour Helpline at Townhall II at 330-678-HELP (4357).


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