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Help line provides counseling services during Flint water crisis

Jan 20, 2016

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Stress, frustration, and depression may be among the feelings that Flint residents are experiencing right now. Tragedies and disasters like the Flint water crisis often bring out strong emotions.

Crisis counseling is immediately available for people affected by the ongoing emergency.

The Disaster Distress Helpline, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a national hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling.

"I think it gives residents an opportunity to voice their concerns, their frustrations, and to basically normalize how they're feeling," said Commander Jamie Seligman, program project officer for the Helpline.

He says residents may experience common symptoms of distress including irregular eating and sleeping habits, headaches, and stomachaches.

"It's an abnormal event and what they're feeling are normal reactions to this event," Seligman said.

The Helpline's trained counselors provide confidential counseling, referrals, and other needed support services, and make sure residents get connected to resources in their local area.

Seligman says he wants residents to know "You're not the only one who's struggling after this type of event or disaster; you're not alone."

The helpline is available 24/7 at: 1-800-985-5990 or by texting TalkWithUs to 66746.

More information is available on the SAMHSA website at: http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/

– Paulette Parker, Michigan Radio Newsroom