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SAMHSA News - March/April, Volume 14, Number 2

Crisis Counseling Grants Help Hurricane Survivors

SAMHSA recently awarded more than $59 million to 14 states for crisis counseling assistance in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. (See SAMHSA News, November/December 2005.)

These grants are awarded through a longstanding partnership between SAMHSA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

A total of 20 states are expected to receive this "Regular Services" program funding, which supports state efforts for up to 9 months of additional help. These grants will enable states to address ongoing counseling needs of persons adversely affected by the hurricanes.

A total of 29 states received "Immediate Services" grants totaling $25.8 million within weeks of the hurricanes in August, September, and October 2005.

To date, when combined with the early round of Immediate Services grants, more than $82 million in Federal crisis counseling support has been made available to states.

Six states received approval for the first awards ($22.3 million)—Mississippi, Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Utah. In the second set of awards, an additional $19.2 million was approved for seven states—Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Colorado. Third, Florida was approved for up to $16.5 million for crisis counseling assistance.

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Building a Recovery Identity

"It's important that crisis counseling services are provided to disaster survivors in a manner that is as engaging and positive as possible," said Seth Hassett, Chief of Emergency Support Services at SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services. "Most people appreciate the availability of counseling services, but for some people this may be the first time they've received any type of mental health support. That's why states have come up with project names that emphasize hope and recovery."

Each crisis counseling program will hire and train people locally to provide outreach to hurricane survivors who need mental health services. Outreach will include mobile services in which trained workers go to shelters, disaster recovery centers, or temporary hotels, and provide supportive contacts, educational materials, and brief counseling services.

Some of the "named" state programs and their approximate approved funding amounts include:

Project Recovery in Mississippi (up to $20 million approved) provides counseling services to people in the 47 counties directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. The state anticipates more than 300,000 persons will need services.

Project AR-K in Arkansas (up to $532,000 approved) provides counseling services to evacuees through outreach efforts, including activities coordinated with local organizations (e.g., health organizations, public housing agencies, and schools).

Indiana's Project Aftermath (up to $690,000 approved) emphasizes field outreach to at-risk populations including children, older adults, and people with disabilities.

Maryland's Project KARE (up to $660,000 approved) establishes outreach programs to provide counseling services to evacuees and serves at-risk populations through community partnerships and special events.

New Jersey's Project Rebound (up to $245,000 approved) focuses on evacuees who are ethnic minorities and children, local families who provide housing, and first responders who were deployed to the affected areas.

Utah Reaching Out (up to $245,000 approved) provides services to evacuees experiencing loss of homes, loved ones, family, and employment.

Colorado Hurricane Evacuee Support and Recovery Project (up to $1.2 million approved) is a counseling program that provides individual and group educational services to hurricane evacuees.

Missouri's Lighthouse Project (up to $545,000 approved) offers a full range of crisis counseling services to hurricane evacuees. Outreach efforts include a statewide telephone crisis hotline.

Pennsylvania Responds (up to $1.1 million approved) will provide education and outreach to several thousand adults and children relocated to Philadelphia and Allegheny counties.

Project Hope in Wisconsin (up to $433,000 approved) is a community-based disaster recovery program addressing the crisis counseling needs of individual evacuees and families.

Florida's Project Hope program received approval for up to $16.5 million for counseling services related to Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

Other crisis counseling awards include:

Illinois (up to $643,000 approved) has outreach workers helping individuals and families to link them to appropriate services.

Texas (up to $12.1 million approved) continues outreach and support services to evacuees from Louisiana and Mississippi. Hundreds of thousands of these evacuees began arriving in Texas 48 hours prior to Katrina's landfall and for weeks after.

Georgia (up to $3.2 million approved) continues to assist with the unique crisis counseling needs of this unusually large number of displaced individuals spread over 250 of the state's 254 counties.

For more details on these grants, visit SAMHSA's Web site at

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