October 4, 2001
SCDMH Personnel Available for New York City and Washington, D.C. Counseling
COLUMBIA, SC: The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) has compiled a list of 234 mental health professionals who have volunteered to provide counseling services to the thousands of people affected by the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. if called.
When disasters occur, either man made or natural, the mental health services agencies in the affected areas respond with their own resources first. If the extent of the disaster exceeds their local capacity, then the next call for support goes to the adjoining states. If necessary, the affected state may also request services from national organizations.
In the case of New York City and Washington, the national mental health organization coordinating services is the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). If SCDMH professionals are needed, then NASMHPD will make the call to South Carolina. This call will include specifics regarding professional training, location of service, and types of necessary services.
The 234 SCDMH volunteers include psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, nurses, clinical counselors, chaplains, and counselors especially trained to work with people who are hard of hearing or deaf. They are organized into five-member teams that typically serve for seven to ten days and are then rotated off.
The SCDMH teams will provide a full range of services including counseling front line workers like fire fighters and police officers; meeting with the immediate families of victims; assisting in the distribution of medicine, food, clothing; or helping to arrange shelter.
The SCDMH provided similar professional services in August 1992, when Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Florida.
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