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Project Helping Hands

By       Message Kenneth Briggs     Permalink

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Project Helping Hands was launched by the National Council when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast in August 2005-to help meet emergency mental health needs in the aftermath of the storm. With generous donations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals the National Council gave immediate emergency grants to provider organizations in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas.

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Provider organizations used Project Helping Hands grants to pay treatment staff, for housing and food, for communications equipment and vehicles, to setup emergency outreach offices, to help staff and consumers repair their homes and on and on.

In 2007, the National Council surveyed providers in and around New Orleans and the results highlighted insufficient numbers of staff and increasing instances of mental illness and addiction disorders among the residents. With additional donations from AstraZeneca, the National Council launched the second phase of Project Helping Hands to help meet the ongoing crisis.

And then the Council extended Project Helping Hands beyond the Gulf Coast to help meet emergency mental health and addictions service needs in the wake of disaster in any community. To date it’s provided emergency grants to help in Greensburg, Kansas after the May tornado, in Minnesota and Ohio after the August flooding in the Midwest, and in Utah in the wake of the mine disaster.

The National Council has neither the deep pockets of FEMA nor the Red Cross nor their bureaucratic rules and regulations; and most importantly it has member organizations and their staff on the ground that know and are committed to their communities. Project Helping Hands steps in to help-quickly and simply.

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Another new development coming soon from the National Council is Mental Health First Aid. Fear is often the basis of stigma and discrimination. People are fearful when they don’t understand, they’re fearful of doing or saying the “wrong” thing and of not knowing how to help.

When someone is physically ill or injured, First Aid is administered before medical treatment can be obtained. Mental Health First Aid is the emotional equivalent-assistance provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Mental Health First Aid is a 12-hour certification course that gives participants the knowledge and skills to help an individual experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. Just as with First Aid or CPR, in Mental Health First Aid, participants learn to assess a situation, to select and implement appropriate interventions, and to help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate care.

And the National Council is bringing Mental Health First Aid, introduced in Australia in 2000 and auspiced by ORYGEN Research Centre at the University of Melbourne, Department of Psychiatry, to the United States.

Source:

Letters from the CEO: December 2007, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.

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An OEN Editor. Born-03/20/1934, BA Pol. Sci.-U of Washington-1956, MBA-Seattle U-1970, Boeing-Program Control-1957-1971, State of Oregon-Mental Health Division-Deputy Admistrator-1971-1979, llinois Association of Community MH (more...)
 

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