Understand the critical phases following a crisis like Hurricane Ian

As we have seen, humanity has an amazing ability to sustain individuals and communities in the aftermath of disasters. Crises often bring out the best in us. All who stood in Hurricane Ian’s path as it wreaked havoc and devastation are likely now the gracious recipients of this compassion and generosity. At a time of often bitter divisions in our culture, people and organizations from all walks of life are now mobilized for a common good.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “Just in Time” Crisis Assistance and Training Program indicates that after a community is hit by a crisis, individuals enter the “heroic” phase, followed by a “honeymoon,” “disillusionment,” and finally “reconstruction.” Faith in our neighbor is now being restored and strengthened minute by minute.

In addition to thousands of often untold acts of heroism, communities come together hand in hand in collaboration with local, state and federal governments extending the safety net to bring hope where none exists. not otherwise.

Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Tuesday, October 11, 2022, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Ian.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reminds us that you are not alone. There are an abundance of resources available to support crises such as natural disasters. Trauma can induce mental health problems and/or substance use disorders, and it can exacerbate them in people who already face challenges that are too often life-threatening.

There are a variety of ways people deal with stress and trauma.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that “spiritual beliefs influence how people make sense of the world” and can be a valuable tool to help foster resilience. As friends, family and neighbors near and far continue to help communities and individuals in times of need, we remember the phrase from the African proverb: “It takes a village”. It takes a village for many things, including rebuilding one after a disaster and creating shelter from the storm.

Recovery, mental and physical, can be a long process and sometimes a struggle and a challenge. Don’t be afraid to ask for help — and also to reach out to others in compassion and unity. As the floodwaters recede, we each have a role to play in lifting our spirits and rising together to meet the challenge.

Some resources available include these:

  • State of Florida Department of Emergency Management (including links to FEMA and counties); FloridaDisaster.org
  • Central Florida Cares Health System, Inc.; CentralFloridaCares.org
Maria Bledsoe

Maria Bledsoe is the CEO of Central Florida Cares Health System, the state-designated management entity for Brevard, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties, which strives to implement a behavioral health care system affordable and high quality for people with mental health and/or substance use disorders who are underinsured or uninsured.


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