In the event of a natural disaster or significant event that affects DMH programs around the state, updates will be posted here. Mississippians should also know that both adults and children/adolescents may experience emotional distress related to any human-caused or natural disasters. The following resources are available for individuals who may need information about mental health services or crisis counseling:
- The Mississippi Department of Mental Health Helpline is available at 1-877-210-8513 and can provide information about services near you.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline is 1-800-985-5990 and provides counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and provides free and confidential support for people in distress.
People feel and express their reactions to a crisis differently. Some emotional reactions include feeling nervous, helpless, fearful, or angry; feeling detached or unconcerned about others; feeling numb and unable to experience strong emotions; or becoming easily upset or agitated.
Individuals’ physical reactions may also differ following an emergency. Common reactions may include having an upset stomach or eating too much or too little; experiencing a pounding heart, rapid breathing, or sweating when thinking about a disaster; having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much.
Although everyone deals with stress at some time in his or her life, when the anxiety and depression begin to affect one’s occupational and social functioning it may be an indication of a more serious problem requiring professional help. Call the Mississippi Department of Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-210-8513 for information about services near you.
Common Reactions to a Disaster
People feel and express their reactions to a crisis differently. Some emotional reactions include:
- Feeling very nervous, helpless, fearful or angry
- Feeling hopeless about the future
- Feeling detached or unconcerned about others
- Feeling numb and unable to experience love or joy
- Becoming easily upset or agitated
- Having frequent distressing dreams or memories
- Avoiding people, places and things related to the disaster
- Having difficulty concentrating
How people physically react to a disaster also varies. Some physical reactions include:
- Having an upset stomach, eating too much or too little, or having gastrointestinal problems
- Experiencing a pounding heart, rapid breathing, sweating or severe headache when thinking about the disaster
- Having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
Although everyone deals with stress at some time in his or her life, when the anxiety and depression begin to affect one’s occupational and social functioning it may be an indication of a more serious problem requiring professional help.
Coping Tactics for Adults
It is very important for people to take care of themselves. People often experience strong and unpleasant emotional and physical responses. With the help of family and friends, most people gradually feel better as time goes by.
There are several ways to cope with the stress a disaster:
- Spend time with other people. Coping with stressful events is easier when people support each other.
- Make use of available community services.
- Create a disaster preparedness plan and emergency supplies kit.
- Exercise, alternated with relaxation, will alleviate some of the physical reactions. Eat balanced small meals.
- Do something that just feels good to you like taking a warm bath, taking a walk, sitting in the sun, or petting your cat or dog.
- Keep a journal; write your way through those sleepless nights.
- Maintain as normal a schedule as possible.
Coping Tactics for Children
What can adults do to help children cope?
- Let them know you understand their feelings.
- Tell them that they really are safe.
- Keep to your usual routines.
- Keep them from seeing too many frightening pictures of the events.
- Educate yourself about how to talk to children of different ages about trauma.