With the onset of hurricane season, the Department of Health is reminding citizens that free counseling services are available to them through the Office of Mental Health’s Louisiana Spirit Program.

“We know that with hurricane season upon us, it’s normal for this time of year to cause some people to experience feelings of anxiety, helplessness, trouble sleeping and other effects associated with recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said Charles G. Cook, Executive Director of Louisiana Spirit. “We want people to know that our services are available and our counselors are ready to help.”

Some of the ways that people can deal with the anxieties associated with disaster preparedness include:

• Communicating feelings with family and friends
• Allowing time for rest and relaxation
• Preparing for the storm; the more prepared a person is, the lower their stress levels become

More information about coping with disasters and preparing for hurricane season can be found on the Louisiana Spirit Web site, www.louisianaspirit.org.

To speak with a counselor by phone or arrange a face-to-face visit, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Louisiana Spirit has also created a new brochure to provide the public detailing its services.  A copy can be accessed by clicking here.

Louisiana Spirit, which began in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, offers counseling services statewide. Through its providers, the federally funded, state-operated program has made almost two million crisis counseling contacts with Louisiana residents. In addition to individual counseling, Louisiana Spirit offers group interventions, first responder counseling, and specialized counseling for anyone affected by the hurricanes.

For more information, contact Pierre Washington, Public Information Officer, at (225) 219-5031 or (225) 219-5000.