NEW YORK, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The New York City Health Department is offering free, confidential crisis counseling for Hurricane Sandy victims as the disaster's first anniversary nears.
Dr. Thomas Farley, commissioner of New York City's Department of Health, says Project Hope crisis counselors can provide emotional support and help people find ways to cope with the traumatic impact the storm had on their lives.
Ads highlighting New Yorkers' hope and resilience will run in subway cars through the month of January.
"For the many New Yorkers whose lives were changed by the storm, the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy can trigger distress," Farley says in a statement. "These feelings can seem overwhelming. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-LIFENET to connect with Project Hope services. And be sure to reach out to your friends and neighbors affected by the storm to see how they and their children are doing."
In 65 percent of the encounters conducted by the project's 300 Project Hope crisis counselors -- between May 29 and Sept. 21 -- referrals were made to community resources to help with rebuilding, additional crisis counseling and mental health services. Project Hope counselors can help adults and children who still experience distress find additional mental health services in the community and provide tools to better manage stress and build back their lives, Farley said.
Health officials suggest people can cope by recognize their strength and how far they have come since Hurricane Sandy; be patient -- it may take time to cope with a traumatic event; connect with others such as a caring neighbor, reach out to an old friend or spend time with your family; and take time to talk with children and carefully listen to what they have to say about how they are feeling after the storm.