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The Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990 provides immediate crisis counseling to people affected by Sunday’s shootings at California’s Gilroy Garlic Festival

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Incidents of mass violence can have an enormous impact on people, including survivors, first responders, witnesses and even those who see related media reports. The Disaster Distress Helpline, at 1-800-985-5990, can provide immediate counseling to anyone who is seeking help in coping with the mental or emotional effects of the mass violence at California’s Gilroy Garlic Festival.

The Helpline is a 24 hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week resource that responds to people who need crisis counseling after experiencing the violence at the festival, or to anyone who is dealing with the traumatic effects of a natural or human-caused disaster. The Helpline is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Helpline specialists are trained to assist callers who have a range of symptoms.

“People who have been through a traumatic event can experience anxiety, worry or insomnia,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., who is the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and is the head of SAMHSA. “People seeking emotional help in the aftermath of a disaster can call 1-800-985-5990 or can text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746 – and can begin the process of recovery.”

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. More on the Helpline is at http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/.

SAMHSA’s online store stocks free resources for people and for the medical professionals who treat them – all geared toward strengthening mental health in the wake of such traumatic incidents:

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Reporters with questions should send inquiries to media@samhsa.hhs.gov.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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