Mid-Michigan Mental Health Worker helps Sandy Victims - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Mid-Michigan Mental Health Worker helps Sandy Victims


Helen Ostien headed to New York after 9-11, Lousiana after Katrina. She's been on eight deployments. She is the state's Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Lead, just one of the licensed professionals for the Red Cross who works in shelters on emergency response vehicles and in the community providing support and comfort.

"We teach our own set of strategies to use in the disaster setting," said Ostein.

There are some 200 mental heath professionals working on the ground in the east coast now with an opening for nearly 200 more. The Mid-Michigan Chapter of the Red Cross has one disaster mental health volunteer on the east coast right now. Ostein says she's headed there after Thanksgiving to help not only the victims but other volunteers too.

 Ostien says after a disaster, the stages people can go through are similar to grief. In the immediate aftermath, many are happy to just be alive. However, that soon can grow into shock and in some cases anger.

"There's this impact of realizing how much they lost and how long its going to take them to rebuild their lives. It's a powerful experience," she says.


It's a long process, one many people deal with long after the volunteers leave, one that in the midst of devastation, lingers a unique kind of hope.

"It's also an amazing experience to watch. People come back, take ahold of their lives and rebuild."

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