Counselors support GA Red Cross Volunteers in Texas and Oklahoma as Disaster Mental Health Volunteers
Counselors at Georgia Highlands College are working on-call to provide American Red Cross workers and volunteers in the flooding and storm aftermath in Texas and Oklahoma periodic opportunities to check in on their personal self-care.
“A disaster relief volunteer working in Texas’ Level 6 disaster (similar to Hurricane Sandy) serves victims experiencing extreme levels of grief and loss, as well as rapidly evolving situations requiring patience and flexibility under stress,” GHC Director of Student Support Services Angie Wheelus said.
“It is not uncommon for volunteers to experience vicarious trauma, or post-traumatic stress as they serve disaster victims of this magnitude,” she went on. “Having a counselor to talk to during and after their assignment enables the volunteer to process and debrief their experience with a mental health professional.”
The counselors at GHC provide an on-call service, which means they may be contacted at any time, day or not, over the phone.
Several relief workers have already been dispatched to the areas affected by the storms and are typically deployed for 2-3 weeks, Wheelus explained. In large-scale disasters like the current one, she added, additional deployments may be required.