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Free crisis counseling helps Harvey survivors cope

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AUSTIN - Recovering from Hurricane Harvey doesn’t just mean rebuilding your home or finding a new job. Long after one’s physical recovery is complete, the signs of stress and trauma may remain.

Texans Recovering Together provides free, confidential crisis counseling and referral services to help survivors work through their disaster recovery. The program is run by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and funded through grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) totaling $13.9 million.

Crisis counseling providers visit homes and community settings for Texans Recovering Together, rather than conducting sessions in an office. Counselors are available in 31 counties affected by Harvey, and survivors can dial 2-1-1 to be referred to a local provider.

More than 147,000 survivors of Hurricane Harvey have received individual crisis counseling, group crisis counseling, public education, community networking services, educational contacts or basic support through Texans Recovering Together. Services provided include stress management techniques, coping mechanisms and connections to disaster-relief resources.

Additionally, staff have provided nearly 145,000 secondary services, including handling telephone and hotline contacts, and distributing digital and printed educational materials.

The crisis counseling program enhances mental health resilience among survivors who are displaced, jobless, homeless, impoverished or faced with stress and other common responses to disaster trauma. Experts say the stress of adjusting to new circumstances and beginning to rebuild after a disaster may not set in for up to a year.

Crisis counseling is available through Texans Recovering Together in the following counties: Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller and Wharton. Additional disaster behavioral health resources can be found at www.hhs.texas.gov/disaster-assistance.

For further information on Hurricane Harvey and Texas recovery, visit the Hurricane Harvey disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4332, Facebook at www.facebook.com/FEMAharvey, the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at www.twitter.com/FEMARegion6 or the Texas Division of Emergency Management website at https://www.dps.texas.gov/dem.

FEMA’s mission: Helping people before, during, and after disasters.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS - Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).

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