Those of us in Houston are with you. Our hearts break while seeing the footage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence. The images of destruction and unimaginable loss are all too familiar to those of us affected by Hurricane Harvey just last year. While we know the focus right now may be on meeting basic needs for food, shelter and medications, we encourage you to take care of your mental health as a crucial step in beginning the healing process.
The emotional toll of this catastrophic loss can cause panic and fear, and impacts people in different ways, at different times. Recognizing for yourself and loved ones that your mental health and emotional processing is a crucial part of recovering from the storm puts the individual on the path to healing.
While it may be tempting to help others by distracting them from their circumstances, it is important to allow those who are suffering the opportunity to openly communicate their pain and grief. Sometimes, simply being present and making a connection with your loved ones who are grieving can help them tremendously.
It is important to show ourselves the same kindness and understanding we would show others going through a similar traumatic event. Personally coping with emotional high’s and low’s after a natural disaster like Hurricane Florence can be a daunting task. Embracing difficult emotions instead of ignoring them, and turning toward family and friends for support can be hugely beneficial to the healing process.
We encourage you to seek help if you need it. Utilize local counseling relief and resources available to you through work, church and the community. Seek comfort in close relationships with friends and family, or with others who are experiencing or have experienced similar loss. Write down thoughts, feelings and frustrations.
During times of catastrophe, when we are likely to turn our attention to meeting essential needs like food and shelter, we must remember our fundamental need for human connection. Whether you are grieving or supporting a loved one who is, reach out to those around you to share your fears, frustrations and hopes.
We know there is a long road ahead, but there is also much encouragement along the way. We found strength in our neighbors, friends and in the kindness of strangers. We know you can, too.
Mariam Massoud, PhD, LMFT
Education specialist at Memorial Hermann Behavioral Health Services.
Memorial Hermann’s Mental Health Crisis Clinics can help meet the mental health needs of individuals during a crisis situation. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 713.338.MHCC (6422).