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Mental health resources available for fire survivors

This Sept. 15, 2020 file photo taken by a drone shows homes leveled by the Almeda Fire at Bear Lake Estates in Phoenix. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management compiled a list of mental health resources available for those traumatized by the fires. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

With the one-year mark drawing closer on the Almeda and South Obenchain fires, state officials have compiled a list of mental health resources available around the clock.

Smoke from this season’s wildfires and evacuations often trigger past wildfire survivors’ anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to an Oregon Office of Emergency Management news release issued Aug. 4.

“Feelings such as overwhelming anxiety, constant worrying, trouble sleeping and other depression-like symptoms are common responses before, during and after wildfires — especially for those who endured these events,” the OEM release states.

For those experiencing such symptoms after surviving last year’s fire season, the OEM states that there are 24/7 resources that may provide support and counseling.

Disaster Distress Helpline

The hotline provided through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration “provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support” for people who are experiencing emotional issues stemming from natural or human-caused disasters, according to the agency’s website. To connect with a trained crisis counselor, call or text 1-800-985-5990 or see DisasterDistress.samhsa.gov for more options.

Safe Strong Oregon

The Oregon Health Authority website can help connect locals with mental health resources located in Southern Oregon. For more info, call 1-800-923-HELP (4357) or see safestrongoregon.org/mental-and-emotional-health.

National Center for PTSD

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers wildfire related mental health resources for veterans. To get immediate help for PTSD, dial 1-800-273-8255 and press “1” if you’re a veteran. For more information see ptsd.va.gov or email ncptsd@va.gov.

American Red Cross

The nonprofit has resources that include “Taking Care Of Your Emotional Health Guides” in nine languages and a large print version, and a “Helping Children Cope with Disaster” guide in six languages. See redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/recovering-emotionally.html