Tragic incidents can have an enormous effect 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 Sunday’s Christmas parade tragedy in Waukesha, Wisc., where an SUV plowed into a crowd, killing and wounding numerous people.
The Helpline is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week resource that responds to people who need crisis counseling after experiencing a disaster or to anyone who is dealing with the traumatic effects of any other 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 Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “People seeking emotional help in the wake of disaster or tragedy can call or text 1-800-985-5990 and begin the healing process.”
The Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the nearest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. Spanish-speakers can press “2” for bilingual support. Callers can also connect with counselors in more than 100 other languages via third-party interpretation services by indicating their preferred language to the responding counselor. A videophone option with direct crisis counseling and support for deaf or hard-of-hearing American Sign Language users also is available. Disaster survivors and responders can connect with trained DDH crisis workers fluent in ASL by dialing 1-800-985-5990 from a videophone-enabled device or via an “ASL Now” link accessible at DisasterDistress.samhsa.gov. More on the Helpline can be found at https://www.disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/.