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$257,978 in Mental Health Grants Help Disaster Survivors Cope

  • February 2, 2012

Along with the economic damage caused by tornadoes, flooding and violent storms that struck U.S communities in 2011, many survivors struggle with post-traumatic stress and other psychological challenges. As part of its 2011 U.S. Disaster Recovery Initiative, AmeriCares has awarded four grants totaling $257,978 to provide crucial mental health and psychosocial support to help families in New York, Alabama and South Dakota.“Site visits to these communities revealed starkly the critical mental health gaps that the AmeriCares grants address – gaps that government programs do not cover,” said AmeriCares emergency response manager, Garrett Ingoglia. “Even when crisis counseling programs are available, there is little support for more in-depth therapy to address severe anxiety, depression and other issues that arise in the aftermath of traumatic events.”Mental health counseling for flood survivors in upstate New YorkA $90,970 grant will help disaster survivors in upstate New York struggling to cope after tropical storms Irene and Lee. The grant enables the Cobleskill-Richmondville, and Schoharie school districts to hire a shared counselor to help teachers, students and their families deal with the severe emotional impact of the storms. In Schoharie Village alone, flood damage left 80 percent of the buildings condemned—including many students’ homes and the businesses where their parents worked. Months after the storm, many students and their families remain displaced, living with friends and relatives or in temporary housing.“The strain on the school officials is apparent as they try to educate a traumatized student body while struggling to repair their schools and care for their own families,” explained Ingoglia.The program’s goals include reducing student anxiety and absences from school, ensuring that the 6,845 students and their families are connected to available services and helping students develop disaster preparedness plans.Intensive mental health services for severely traumatized tornado survivors in AlabamaAn $81,188 grant will help the Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center address the needs of hundreds of individuals suffering from a range of psychological problems, including depression, anxiety and substance abuse in the wake of deadly April, 2011 tornadoes that devastated economically struggling communities across the region.

Photo Courtesy of REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana,

Photo Courtesy of REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana, www.Trust.orgThe mental health center currently coordinates with the state on Project Rebound, a FEMA-funded program that provides basic crisis counseling. The counselors identified 500 individuals experiencing intense post-traumatic mental health issues beyond the scope of the program. To help these individuals recover, the center will use the grant funding to hire a master’s level therapist and a licensed professional nurse to provide therapy and case management services.Case management services for 200 families in Birmingham, AlabamaWith a grant of $50,000, the Birmingham Baptist Association will provide case management services to 200 families severely affected by tornadoes that devastated portions of Birmingham in April 2011. The grant will fund the services of three part-time case managers who will connect these families to organizations that can provide targeted assistance including mental health referrals, aid with applying for government financial assistance, and locating trained volunteers to help repair damaged homes. Outreach and case management services for 1,000 displaced families in flood stricken South DakotaThe Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota received a $29,000 grant to provide outreach and case management services to rural families displaced by massive Missouri River flooding. Lutheran Social Services’ trained case managers will reach out to 1,000 underserved families, providing them with needed help, including mental health referrals and assistance in applying for government aid. Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota is a statewide human services agency with a wide variety of social programs in 30 communities.To help communities across America recover from massive tornadoes, storms, and flood-related devastation, AmeriCares launched its U.S.Disaster Recovery Initiative, and has awarded more than $600,000 in grants supporting medical care for the uninsured, mental health services and preparedness for future disasters. Read MoreDonate Now