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Mental health experts: self-care is crucial during storm recovery

Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 6:08 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A counseling hotline initially set up to help people with mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic is expanding. It’s known as COVID Recovery Iowa and was one of the programs DHS started with federal funding.

Experts with COVID Recovery Iowa say they’ve seen an increase in calls from people impacted by the derecho. They say while the signs and symptoms of mental health issues haven’t changed, they may be more pronounced.

“When you have a tree through your house, or your house is collapsing, or you ended up in a cornfield in your car, then it adds another layer of trauma,” said Karen Hyatt with COVID Recovery Iowa. “For people who may have to go into a shelter, maybe they’ve had a bad experience in a bad shelter before or they’re not comfortable...they have animals that they’re not willing to separate from. So, I think how people navigate after an event like what you’re experiencing, just triggered different things, and are more enhanced. "

While volunteering to help the community recover is important, Hyatt it’s also crucial to remember self-care is key.

“Not only for those that are directly impacted, which we know there are hundreds of people who have housing issues, and food issues, and economic issues--but for the staff that are working hard and the volunteers that are coming in extra hours.”

“In terms of triggers, noticing their routine is off, not sleeping well...having vivid dreams, just that sense of ‘I have all this to do and no energy to do it....how do I break this down and get started on one little piece.’ They’re not feeling like you want to eat or feeling like you want to eat too much...not having access to your normal grocery store, your gas station...all of those things can be really overwhelming for people and add on to whatever they’re experiencing.”

Anyone who needs help can call the Iowa Concern Line at 800-447-1985 or go to covidrecovery.org.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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