September is National Preparedness Month. All this month, the Office of Public Health Preparedness will be spotlighting simple steps and tips to help you and your loved ones prepare in the event of an emergency. The new “Get Ready. Be Safe. Stay Healthy.” campaign encourages the whole community to work together to be more prepared. You can start doing your part to build a more resilient Boston by taking the Pledge to Prepare and sharing this important information on Facebook and Twitter .
This week, we are focusing on the Stay Healthy part of the campaign by highlighting ways you can remain healthy before, during, and after an emergency. Below are suggestions on how and when you may need to seek support following an emergency. To learn more about National Preparedness Month and the “Get Ready. Be Safe. Stay Healthy.” campaign, visit our previous blog post.
Mental health is an important part of our overall health that is often difficult to discuss. As we have seen through the recent tragic events both here in Boston and more recently in Washington, D.C., emergencies can be unpredictable and have the potential to cause varying levels of emotional distress in those who live in and outside of the affected areas. After experiencing a disaster, it may take time to bounce back – and that’s normal. In order to stay healthy, especially after traumatic events, be sure you know when to seek support from those around you, including trained professionals, and how you can access those resources. Another way to stay healthy is to join your neighbors and community in taking regular steps towards preparing. This allows you to take control of the things you can and reduces the stress of emergencies: Take the Pledge to Prepare.
Below, you will find a list of signs that you or a loved one may need to seek support, and some vetted resources you can use at any time.
Signs of Disaster-Related Stress
There are a number of different signs that you might be experiencing stress or other mental health issues. You should ask for help and seek support if you are experiencing any of the following:
- eating or sleeping too much or too little;
- pulling away from people and things;
- not able to take care of yourself or your children;
- not able to do your job;
- using alcohol or drugs to get away from your problems;
- feeling sad or depressed for more than 2 weeks;
- thinking about suicide.
Suicide Prevention Hotline
If you or someone you know experiences any of the above signs of disaster-related stress, you should begin thinking about seeking support. Calling any of the following hotlines allows you to talk with someone anonymously:
- Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Samaritans 24-hour Help Line: 1-877-870-HOPE (4673)
- Samaritans Boston (24-hour Help Line): 617-247-0220
- Samariteens (teen line): 1-800-252-TEEN (8336)
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth Support:
- Fenway Community Health Center: 1-800-399-7337
- The Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of trauma-related stress, and how to cope in the aftermath of a tragedy, please visit any of the following websites:
- Boston Public Health Commission’s Child Adolescent and Family Health
- Disaster Distress Hotline
- Riverside Trauma Center
- Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Always remember that if you or a loved one is in immediate danger, or you fear for your safety, please call 9-1-1 immediately.