As hundreds of fires burn across California, many parents and teens are struggling to cope with not only the physical impact of the wildfires but also the mental health impact of coping with a disaster-within-a-disaster.
The physical and mental health impacts of being displaced by fires while also experiencing severe economic stress resulting from the pandemic, or being exposed to health and safety risks such as being unable to maintain social distance in shelters or exposure to potential lung damage from smoke and ash, coupled with increased risk of COVID-19 exposure, can increase the chance of not only physical problems, but mental health problems, problems with substance use, or suicide.
How can you help your family (and yourself!) remain resilient during this time? We each can do two key things: 1) Learn how to best provide support for teens, and 2) Reach out for help with our own mental health and well-being.
Learn how to provide support for teens:
During a disaster, first responders are taught the basics of not only first aid for injuries, but Psychological First Aid. As a parent, you are often the “first responder” for your children in times of disaster. Try these tips for parents of teens in this tip sheet from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Reach out for help:
Call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 for support and counseling. The Disaster Distress Helpline is a national hotline that provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.
This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Spanish-speakers should text Hablanos to 66746. English speakers in U.S. territories text TalkWithUs to 1-212-461-4635. Calls and texts are answered by trained, caring counselors from crisis call centers located throughout the United States.