Childen still may need post-storm counseling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2005

BATON ROUGE, – The holiday season is stressful enough, but, if you add a devastating hurricane, the loss of a home, family, and a job, it can be overwhelming. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, hurricane victims, including children, are dealing with issues never before faced.

It is important for parents and guardians to know that children can be particularly vulnerable as a result of any disaster. They may suffer from anxiety because of disaster losses and a change in family life.

&#8220We realize the strain placed on families affected by the hurricanes,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Scott Wells. &#8220Their lives have been displaced in some way or another, and we want hurricane victims to know we are here to ensure that crisis counseling services are available during this holiday season.”

Some signs to look for if your child may be experiencing stress are:

Children five or younger may cry more frequently, have nightmares, fear being alone, have an excessive fear of the dark and their appetites may change.

Children five to eleven may be aggressive, seem withdrawn from their peers, exhibit increased irritability and lose interest in normal activities.

Some steps to reduce stress in children may be:

Encouraging activities. Social time with friends and family is a very important part of the recovery process.

Reassuring them. Parents can reassure their children by telling them they are safe, provide play experiences for them and make bedtime a special moment for them.

Crisis Counseling continues to be available during the holidays to those who were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Referral services and short-term counseling are available by calling one of the following numbers:

Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255

United Healthcare Hotline, 1-866-615-8700

Baton Rouge Area Crisis Line, (225) 924-3900

The Crisis Counseling Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.