Natural disasters can have a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of both people immediately impacted by the storm and those watching it on TV – especially kids. Thousands of Floridians have been impacted by Hurricane Ian, and as relief efforts continue to help communities rebuild, it’s important to prioritize mental health to help heal some of the less visible effects the storm has had on our kids, neighbors, and colleagues.
Mental health resources for Parents and Providers are available on fcaap.org, as well as on SimplyHealthyMinds.com. HealthyChildren.org offers valuable Flash Flood Recovery Information for Families and guidance for Responding to Children’s Emotional Needs During Times of Crisis. AAP.org also offers Clinician Recommendations Regarding Return of Children to Areas Impacted by Flooding and/or Hurricanes .
Since peer support is highly effective in mitigating anxiety and stress for those experiencing trauma, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has launched the Family Support Line, which connects individuals and families who were impacted by Hurricane Ian with peers who were impacted and have recovered from Hurricane Michael. Volunteers will also help direct Hurricane Ian survivors to resources that are available at the state, federal and local level, including information about bridge loans, roof repair, disaster unemployment assistance and disaster SNAP benefits. Individuals who would like to talk with a Family Support Peer can call the 888-850-SWFL support line 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Florida Department of Health (DOH) and DCF have also partnered with BetterHelp to offer mental health services through three months of free online therapy to those impacted by Hurricane Ian. To access these free services, visit betterhelp.com/voucher and use code: HurricaneIan. BetterHelp will then prompt impacted Floridians with a questionnaire to best match them with a licensed mental health professional.
These initiatives are in addition to a variety of mental health resources available for disaster survivors and first responders on the Florida’s Disaster Mental Health Resources webpage. On this page is a survey to provide targeted mental health assistance to first responders who stepped up to serve on the front lines even if their own home was damaged in the path of Hurricane Ian.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Hotline. If you are experiencing or see a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.