As the rain fell and the water rose on April 18, Matt and Valerie knew what was coming. Less than a year earlier, more than two feet of water invaded their home in Houston’s Meyerland neighborhood. Now, the same disaster was striking again. Thousands of residents across Southeast Texas faced similar situations as the latest round of flooding took its toll on homes and businesses across the Diocese.
It’s no surprise that natural disasters like the flooding experienced across Texas in the last year added extraordinary stress to thousands of families. Sometimes those affected do very well in managing the immediate after-effects of the disaster. Working hard to do the necessary clean-up, negotiating the financial hurdles and making plans for reconstruction can even help in the management of stress in the short run. However, it’s important to recognize that stress is real and the cumulative effect of that stress can have its own timeline in an individual’s personal mental health. Most will do well and many will manage OK, but many others inevitably will develop a need for some special attention and assistance in dealing with their mental health concerns.
EHF has made a deliberate decision to train individuals in Mental Health First Aid in the regions of the Diocese where recent flooding has occurred. “Mental Health First Aid is the help offered to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate treatment and support are received or until the crisis resolves.” The skills taught in this eight-hour training helps equip participants with the skills to identify signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD and some psychotic disorders. Suicide and suicidality intervention are discussed in detail. Though no one will come out of this training with the skills to treat these illnesses, they will learn skills to keep people safe, make appropriate interventions and help connect affected people to appropriate treatment.
Check out the Mental Health First Aid training sessions offered across the Diocese, with concentration in the regions affected by flooding. Training sessions will continue to be scheduled and posted throughout the year.