By Wendy DePedro
Emotional health resources are readily available in Monmouth County
Recent weeks have highlighted the strength and resiliency of thousands of Monmouth County residents as they found ways to cope with the aftermath of Sandy and levels of stress in their lives that some could have never imagined.
As the days of our recovery process turn into weeks and move into months, some in our community may need additional help with emotional healing. Dealing with the emotional consequences may help reduce the possibility of long-term problems. So important are the techniques for managing stress and anxiety and advice on staying connected to others.
Sometimes just asking “do you have someone you can talk to; or have you considered talking to someone about the difficulties you might be incurring” can lead someone in the right direction of feeling better and able to cope. Once that need for additional assistance is identified, whether it is by the individuals themselves or by family members and friends, it is important to know that after Sandy there are resources to help with emotional recovery.
In Monmouth County there are a number of organizations along with county and state offices that are leading the way and providing needed resources.
For an initial response to determine the emotional needs of impacted individuals there is a team on the ground in Monmouth County through the NJ Hope and Healing campaign that can be reached at 877-294-HELP (4357).
Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton has reactivated its Office of Disaster Response. Their toll-free number is 1-800-652-2080. Anyone from Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington or Mercer counties affected by Hurricane Sandy can contact the program. Visit www.catholiccharitiestrenton.org. Services are expected to include: disaster case management, financial assistance, trauma counseling, and financial counseling and donation management. Services are being provided at Monmouth Counseling Services, 145 Maple Ave., Red Bank.
The Mental Health Association of Monmouth County (MHA) has a team of 70 local therapists/counselors who are volunteering their time to provide free counseling to any local residents in need. Individuals who need help can call the Mental Health Association at 732-542-6422. MHA intake staff will then link that person directly to one of the mental health professionals on the list. Services are provided free of charge and arrangements for home visits or a convenient location in the community are an option. Visit www.mentalhealthmonmouth.org.
United Way of Monmouth County has launched Rebuild Monmouth, which is coordinating and overseeing the countywide volunteer effort and long-term recovery assistance including all their affiliated organizations. Visit www.uwmonmouth.org. They also have an information and referral service for all questions about basic needs like food, housing and health care to legal services, drug treatment, jobs assistance, child care, mental health services, transportation, financial assistance and a lot more. Just dial 2-1-1 or call toll free 877-NJ2114U (877-652-1148), or visit www.nj211.org. It’s free and totally confidential.
Monmouth County Division of Mental Health and Addictions for local mental health information and referral. They can be contacted at 732-431-7200. MCDMA is facilitating a one-hour session for the general public from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, on the topic of “Emotional Healing from Sandy: Healthy Coping Skills and Available Resources” at the new Monmouth Connection offices, 3544 Route 66, Neptune.
For up-to-date county disaster information you may visit www.visitmonmouth.com.
It is also important to note that many people know that they need help but do not know how to go about seeking assistance. In some situations they may be hesitant, believing that they should be able to handle these newfound challenges on their own. The effects of traumatic events can be shortened and resolved when numerous supports are available to individuals and their loved ones.
Seeking support is not a sign of weakness but an opportunity to build resilience, not only to cope with current challenges but also to build the strength necessary to move on with whatever else comes in the future. Depending on the need, please call the resources listed above.
At the Mental Health Association and our nationwide affiliate Mental Health America we believe “there is no health without mental health.” The resources are vast in our county and your local communities, please use them.
Wendy DePedro is the executive director of the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County.