To the Editor:
There are visible losses to the many Hoosiers affected by Indiana's recent natural disasters.
Not quite as recognizable is the psychological impact and ongoing stress endured by victims and response workers of these disasters.
The tornadoes and floods of 2008 took a toll on thousands of Hoosier families. The basic securities most of us take for granted such as food, shelter and clothing were just some of the immediate needs faced by families.
Reaction to these stressors take many forms. Children and adults may experience depression, irritability, loss of appetite and have difficulty sleeping. In addition, disaster workers frequently face similar adjustments when returning to their normal routines.
Victims and workers may also experience "disaster-induced trauma," which if left untreated, can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, withdrawing or isolation from others, feelings of disorientation and thoughts of doing harm to oneself or others.
Effective "Psychological First Aid" in a disaster's immediate aftermath can significantly help families and communities to put their lives back together.
That is why Indiana's Family Social Services Administration, through the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, is pleased to provide Project Aftermath to assist families and disaster workers with the healing process.
Project Aftermath is a federally funded crisis counseling outreach program that is free to those who need its services and was developed to operate in response to the Presidential Disaster Declarations. Project Aftermath provides crisis counseling and emotional support to those who have experienced a loss or trauma as a result of a disaster.
The goal is to return these individuals to a pre-disaster level of functioning. Supervised group sessions allow the individuals to share experiences and validate their emotional, psychological, cognitive and behavioral responses. These services are available to victims and disaster workers.
For more information about Indiana's Project Aftermath, visit www.projectaftermathindiana.org or call 1-866-679-4631. Trained crisis counselors and outreach workers are available to answer questions or provide immediate assistance.
Cathy Boggs, Director
Division of Mental Health and Addition,
Indiana Family and Social Services Administration