When we experience a disaster, people react with increased anxiety, worry and anger. With community and family support, most of us bounce back. Some of us, however, may need extra assistance to cope with unfolding events and uncertainties. Everyone, even the people that others look up to for guidance and assistance, is entitled to their feelings and deserves support throughout the recovery process.
If you or someone in your care needs additional assistance recovering emotionally from the fires, please access the following free services:
- Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative – Call NAMI at (866-960-6264) or visit www.mysonomastrong.com
- Free group information and resiliency building sessions conducted by SPR trained mental health professionals
- Free yoga and iRest meditation classes
- Free individual counseling
- Free self-guided resilience training
- Rebuilding Our Community (ROC) Sonoma County – Call (707) 535-3349 or visit https://rocsonomacounty.org
- Disaster Case Management – Call Catholic Charities at (866) 542-5480
Disaster Distress Helpline is available 24-7
If you are experiencing emotional distress, perhaps because of recent red flag warnings or smoke from fires outside Sonoma County, a national Disaster Distress Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.
This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster.
Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Spanish speakers can call 1-800-985-5990 and press "2" or text Hablanos to 66746
The deaf or hard of hearing can text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Use your preferred relay service to call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990
The hotline is provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation
For more information, go to www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
Recovery Takes Time
Getting ourselves and our lives back in a routine that is comfortable for us takes time.
- Take care of your safety. Find a safe place to stay and make sure your physical health needs and those of your family are addressed. Seek medical attention if necessary.
- Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of disaster, especially on television, the radio and in the newspapers.
- Eat healthy. During times of stress, it is important that you maintain a balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
- Get some rest. With so much to do, it may be difficult to have enough time to rest or get adequate sleep. Giving your body and mind a break can boost your ability to cope with the stress you may be experiencing.
- Stay connected with family and friends. Giving and getting support is one of the most important things you can do. Try to do something as a family that you have all enjoyed in the past.
- Be patient with yourself and with those around you. Recognize that everyone is stressed and may need some time to put their feelings and thoughts in order. That includes you!
- Set priorities. Tackle tasks in small steps.
- Gather information about assistance and resources that will help you and your family members meet your disaster-related needs.
- Stay positive. Remind yourself of how you’ve successfully gotten through difficult times in the past. Reach out when you need support, and help others when they need it.
When the Challenges Are Ongoing
Many people have experience coping with stressful life events and typically feel better after a few days. Others find that their stress does not go away as quickly as they would like and it influences their relationships with their family, friends and others.
If you find yourself or a loved one experiencing some of the feelings and reactions listed below for two weeks or longer, this may be a sign that you need to reach out for additional assistance.
- Crying spells or bursts of anger
- Difficulty eating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Losing interest in things
- Increased physical symptoms sucha as headaches or stomachaches
- Feeling guilty, helpless or hopeless
- Avoiding family and friends
American Red Cross Resources and Guides
Guides are available in other languages on the American Red Cross website.