Kansas to receive FEMA help to establish crisis hotlines, websites

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 11:29 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Kelly has announced the funding of Crisis Counseling under Kansas’ Major Disaster Declaration.

Governor Laura Kelly says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved the Kansas plan for crisis counseling under the Stafford Act.

Governor Kelly says the funding is provided by FEMA’s Crisis Counseling Program Immediate Services Program. She says ISP is a program supported by a grant providing disaster relief assistance through providers that have been specially trained and other ways of support for up to 60 days after a major disaster declaration.

According to the Governor, the funding was secured through a partnership with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services and the Department of Agriculture.

“Kansans have faced challenges and uncertainty since the beginning of this unprecedented health crisis,” says Kelly. “We are developing a program with both virtual and person-to-person support offered with social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in mind. It is imperative to provide options for support during this time to let people know they are not alone, and help is available for those who need it.”

Governor Kelly says the first round of training was held on June 19 and 22 for providers to help support mental health initiatives that were designed to benefit Kansans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She says the initial Core Content Training lasts two days and is developed by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which covers basic crisis counseling skills and services, data collection and stress management techniques. According to the Governor, over 40 providers were trained.

The Governor says this is an opportunity which positions Kansas to address the complexities of the novel coronavirus. She says collaborating agencies have been establishing an approach that provides outreach and services by phone, virtually and through social media.

According to the Governor, the program focuses on providing crisis counseling and disaster recovery options, promoting the development and usage of healthy coping strategies, connecting survivors with appropriate people and agencies to assist them and completing referrals to other disaster recovery programs or mental health providers.

Governor Kelly says the hotlines and online support resources are now available.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or a chat option is available online. The Kansas Ag Stress Resources website can be found on the Kansas Department of Agriculture website, which also has a hotline at 1-800-447-1985. The Disaster Distress Helpline can be reached at 1-800-985-5990. All hotlines are open 24/7.

Governor Kelly says Kansas: Stronger Together program will also provide toolkits with educational materials and general outreach information for residents, businesses and providers. She says materials are available for public use and encouraged to but used as needed and shared in grocery stores, churches, businesses, funeral homes, social media, medical clinics and other places where gatherings happen.

According to the Governor, topics addressed include grief and loss, financial stress, coping mechanisms, children and coping, anxiety related to COVID-19, possible suicidal ideation, general resource information, agriculture hardship and more. She says the information can be found online via Facebook at Kansas: Stronger Together.

“As we continue to find ways to proactively battle the ongoing mental health and social effects of this pandemic, I think it’s important we recognize the impact puts us in uncharted territory in that it reaches every corner of our state,” says KDADS Secretary Laura Howard. “This funding allows us to implement a program that can also reach every corner of our state and is designed to link those in need to crisis counseling and community supports as well as other resources, strategies and comforts as we face this together.”

The Governor says the state will be requesting ongoing crisis counseling assistance from FEMA with a request to extend crisis counseling services to Kansans through the Crisis Counseling Program Regular Services Program. The Regular Services Program is a CCP grant program that provides disaster relief assistance for ongoing counseling services and support for up to 9 months after a major disaster is declared.

For additional resources visit the Kansas: Stronger Together Facebook page or call 2-1-1 or 1-800-CHILDREN.

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