Dec. 22, 2021–Weather can change anyone’s circumstances in the blink of an eye, as families across eight states learned when tornadoes battered the Midwest-Southern corridor earlier this month.
From extensive damage to power outages to complete destruction of homes, many Americans have found themselves facing displacement, food insecurity, PTSD and the threat of substance relapse or mental health emergencies. We at Fast Pace Health are committed to pointing those in need to local, state and national organizations to help overcome those hurdles in the immediate aftermath.
Meeting Immediate Needs
Work on the physical damage left behind by the tornadoes is already underway, but the mental toll has potential to linger. The impact and emotions tied to the recent extraordinary weather events can be hard to take on. In response to these events, Fast Pace Health is opening up free scheduled group sessions to bring together those in the community for emotional support and comfort with our Behavioral Health providers.
To take part CALL (855) 560-4999 or register online. Space for sessions may be limited.
FPH Director of Behavioral Health, Nikita Duke, DNP, PMHNP-BC, explains that priority number one now, and in the weeks to come, will be listening to people’s needs and directing them to where those needs can be addressed.
“When someone has just lost everything, just saying ‘it’s going to be OK’ is not what’s needed [in the immediate aftermath],” she said. “The focus right now is on helping educate people to find the support and services they need and help them navigate their circumstances.”
Dr. Duke recommends that those looking to help Kentucky and Tennessee residents in distress start by helping fulfill immediate needs. Think along the lines of everyday necessities for all age ranges.
Donations can be made to verified sources to assist by state. Here are just a few suggestions:
Team Western Tornado Relief Fund (Kentucky)
There is also a fund set up by the state to provide toys for children (Kentucky) whose families are in distress going into the holidays.
Links by assistance organization statewide and by county in Tennessee.
Volunteers are needed in the Kentucky and Tennessee regions at the American Red Cross. They ask that you please apply first on their website so they can efficiently and effectively make use of volunteers.
Mental Health Resources
Additionally, with the Central US’s confirmed death toll in the 80s the first week after the severe weather event, families with lost loved ones could need support from grief, trauma and loss counseling experts. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) administers the Disaster Distress Hotline, a free 24/7 hotline for those experiencing trauma after natural disasters: 800-985-5990. The hotline’s counselors will connect you with local resources for basic needs, crisis counseling, education on recognizing PTSD in loved ones, tips for coping and local referrals for further support.
Those in recovery and treatment for substance abuse are particularly vulnerable to stress and trauma. SAMHSA also offers the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a confidential and cost-free 24/7 support line for people experiencing mental health emergencies, and the National Helpline, a 24/7 informational line available to those seeking treatment referrals and information for themselves or a loved one: 800-273-8255.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is currently accepting applications for displacement assistance after the severe weather event. If you are in immediate need of shelter, the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locator may help you find a safe location for you and your family.
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? Fast Pace Health is also here to help.
“Here at Fast Pace Behavioral Health, we have opened a number of spots for free group counseling to support those affected by the recent disasters,” Duke said. “Our counselors would like to provide and offer support by active listening, providing education, coping skills, and even an opportunity to meet other people in your community who also may be trying to overcome this recent disaster.”
To join a FPH support group, call 855-560-4999 or visit fastpacehealth.com/behavioralhealth. Space for sessions may be limited.
“Make sure that you let us know that you have recently been impacted by the natural disaster,” Duke said. “Again, here at Fast Pace Behavioral Health, our hearts are with you all and hope for continual recovery.”
Our thoughts are with everyone whose lives were changed forever by the horrific and deadly tornadoes that touched down across multiple areas in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Fast Pace Health is not affiliated with aide organizations referenced in this article.
This article was originally published Dec. 22, 2021.
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