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Mental Health Counselors Helping Sandy Victims [AUDIO]

As the clean-up and power restoration efforts continue following the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy, a lot of Jersey residents are feeling anxious, depressed and stressed-out.

Andrew Burton, Getty Images

In response, the New Jersey Department of Human Services has dispatched more than 600 specially trained crisis counselors to shelters and communities across the Garden State.

Adrienne Fessler Belli, the Director of the Disaster and Terrorism Branch at the Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, says, “New Jersey is very proactive in looking at events that occur such as disasters – and providing assistance we prepare and train so that we can have counselors on the ground immediately.”

She says, “People are really concerned, they’re upset and a lot of times they just need to talk – have someone listen to them…It would be very devastating for folks that have been in shelters, and if they come home and their house has been damaged – we will be in the communities to support them.”

Fessler Belli adds, “We have a help line number that people can call if they’re upset- if they need information and referral for mental health services- and that help line number is 877-294-4357…Everybody recovers and deals with traumatic events in their own way, everybody’s perception of the situation is very different. So for some people, they don’t want to talk about it, for other people, they do, and for those folks we are there…It can calm them down and lower the anxiety, lower that adrenaline system and that cortisol, and all those stress hormones…and then we will work with them through however long it takes to recovery.”

She also points out, “These are traumatic reactions to a traumatic situation and the majority of individuals are resilient and they do not go on to develop any other problems…It helps to talk to people, to rely on what your normal coping mechanisms were- it doesn’t mean by talking – that you are weak or that something is wrong with you – this is a very unusual situation that taxes everyone.”

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