The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, provides immediate crisis counseling to people affected by the mass shooting in Virginia Beach

Saturday, June 1, 2019

A traumatic event can be unexpected and often brings out strong emotions. The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, can provide immediate counseling to anyone who may need help in dealing with the effects of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Va., in which a gunman killed 12 people.

The Helpline is a 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week resource that responds to people who need crisis counseling after experiencing a natural or man-made disaster or a traumatic event.

Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services.

“When a traumatic event occurs, people react with increased anxiety, worry and anger. With community and family support, most of us bounce back. Some may need extra assistance to cope with unfolding events and uncertainties,” said Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “People seeking emotional help in the aftermath of a traumatic event can now call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 and begin the process of recovery.”

The Disaster Distress Helpline is a national hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling. The toll-free Helpline is confidential and multilingual and available for those who are experiencing psychological distress as a result of natural or man-made disasters, incidents of mass violence or any other traumatic event affecting America's communities. The Helpline complements the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other disaster response capacities, and is available immediately anywhere within the United States.

The helpline can also be accessed at https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline

For more information, reporters may contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 202-868-9144.

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last Updated: 06/03/2019