by Jennifer Velez, Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Human Services
It’s hard to believe how quickly time has gone by since Superstorm Sandy devastated many of our New Jersey communities, damaging homes and businesses and wreaking widespread havoc on the lives of Garden State families in its path. In the wake of Sandy’s destruction, we also saw the character of our New Jersey communities. Our people stood up in remarkable ways to help each other, to stabilize our state, and to take care of each other – because it’s what New Jerseyans do.
The extensive physical damage from the rare superstorm was immediately evident, with storm-beaten homes, buildings and scattered debris featured extensively in national and international media. Less evident, but no less important and significant, was the emotional impact and distress that such a traumatic event can create.
So we’ve been standing up to help our families, friends, neighbors and colleagues as they deal with the significant emotional toll resulting from the storm.
During the superstorm and its initial aftermath, crisis counselors certified by the Disaster and Terrorism Branch (DTB) of the Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services rushed to shelters and hard-hit communities to provide immediate emotional support for thousands of our neighbors who evacuated from or lost their homes.
Under the New Jersey Hope and Healing program – a joint effort of DTB and the Mental Health Association of New Jersey – crisis counselors continue to help survivors develop coping skills and tools to build their resilience. Every day, crisis teams canvas affected communities and are dispatched to serve people who are struggling to resume their daily routines and lives. To date, nearly 100,000 residents have received these free counseling services by fellow New Jerseyans who’ve had extensive training.
For more information about New Jersey Hope and Healing, call 1-888-294-HELP (4357), TTY: 1-888-294-4356 –from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
I hope residents take full advantage of resources like New Jersey Hope and Healing to support their emotional health as we continue to rebuild and recover from Sandy.
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