Government News
Public Service Spots Address MH Care For Hurricane Victims
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 2 page 10-10

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a national public service campaign last month to encourage the estimated 500,000 hurricane survivors and rescue workers who may need mental health assistance to seek professional help.

The public service announcements (PSAs), created through a partnership of HHS's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Ad Council, consist of television and radio advertisements.

"Most hurricane survivors demonstrate remarkable resiliency and will rebuild their lives without significant mental or substance abuse issues," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie, M.A., said. "We also know that there is a smaller but still significant number of people who will have difficulty achieving recovery without professional assistance. Help is a phone call away."

The PSAs aim to reach adult victims and first responders directly, as well as parents and caregivers of children. Viewers and listeners are encouraged to take time to check in on how they and their families are doing. Adults and parents with concerns are instructed to call (800) 789-2647, while first responders may call (800) 273-TALK. Trained professionals at those numbers will provide information and referrals to local services.

The campaign also targets out-of-state aid workers who have since returned home.

"They are going to go back to their homes, and then the suffering is going to hit them," said Col. Jerry Sneed of the New Orleans Homeland Security Office. He said he has been called by many aid workers who worry they did not do enough to help.

The ads will be available for the media to use indefinitely, said a SAMHSA spokesperson.

Additional information on the campaign and the PSAs are posted at<www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/disasterrelief>.

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