There’s good news for New Jersey residents struggling with post-Sandy psychological issues.

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The Garden State has received an  $11.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which will allow the Department of Human Services (DHS) to expand its New Jersey Hope and Healing Program, and continue to provide crisis counseling and outreach services.

The money will fund ongoing efforts by the DHS Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services Disaster and Terrorism Branch, and its partners, to help Sandy survivors cope with the emotional challenges associated with loss or displacement.

“Disasters like Sandy damage more than just property – for many the sense of loss, helplessness and hopelessness is unshakeable. Restoring survivors’ emotional and psychological balance is a fundamental factor in New Jersey’s rebuilding process, ” says DHS Commissioner Jenn Velez.

Adrienne Fessler Belli, Director of the DHS Disaster and Terrorism Branch within DMHAS  says, “The extensive physical damage from the rare Superstorm was immediately evident, with storm-beaten homes, buildings and scattered debris featured extensively in national and international media. Less evident, but no less significant, was the emotional impact and distress that such a traumatic event can create.”

Feelings of Anxiety, Depression

Research shows that feelings of anxiety and depression can increase as people try to recover from a disaster. Outreach and support efforts aim to promote resilience through use of good support systems and coping techniques, including sharing your feelings, maintaining your routine, seeking professional advice, and limiting exposure to news about the event.

The New Jersey Hope and Healing program helpline can be reached at 1 (877) 294-HELP, with TTY availability at 1 (877) 294-4356, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for people recovering from Sandy’s emotional impact.