Residents reminded to care for their mental health following flooding

BERRIEN COUNTY — The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are urging all residents affected by the flooding caused by torrential rain in February to pay attention to their mental behavioral health needs as the water recedes and the recovery process begins. Disasters take an enormous toll on all people involved, and MDHHS encourages residents to seek emotional support as needed.

Recovery following a flood can be a difficult process. During this period of transition, it is important for those affected to eat and sleep well, seek medical attention if necessary, stay connected with family and friends, and establish priorities and goals.

Common reactions to traumatic events include: difficulty making decisions or focusing, feeling depressed, changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, feeling mentally and physically drained and becoming easily frustrated. If people are experiencing any of these symptoms, they are advised to address them with a licensed mental health professional.

For information regarding mental health resources available in the Berrien County community, visit the MDHHS website and click on Berrien County at michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-2941_4868_4899-178824–,00.html.

Everyone’s reaction to a disaster is different, officials said. Those with children are advised to pay extra attention to their reactions as children’s ability to cope is often tied to an adult’s reaction. Adults are advised to try and manage their own feelings and establishing a sense of control. Additionally, senior citizens, residents with access and functional needs and those who do not speak English as a first language are at particular risk, officials said.

Those in need of information or resources to help their family recover from the flooding, can contact 2-1-1 and speak with a representative. They will provide people with information and resources that may be able to help.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also offers a variety of resources to support mental health during disasters, including a free Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990. For more information, go to disasterdistress.samhsa.gov.

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