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Northern California Wildfire Survivors
Photo credit: John Burgess/The Press Democrat

In a matter of moments, an unexpected disaster that no one should have to bear, could turn into a lifelong emotional and mental battle. The trauma of not knowing what is to come as you watch your family in anguish as they desperately try to gather themselves, their possessions, and anything that may not survive the pit of wildfire that what was once their beautiful and loving home. The hopeful encounter of something being there upon return, just to find nothing but a pile of ash, is wrenching as you have no choice but to step away.

Many of us will never bear weight of this tragedy, but this is the catastrophe that affected hundreds and thousands by the recalled wildfires in Northern California. What is to come for them? How are they able to merely cope without even knowing where to start for help?

The impact has motivated the Northern California mental health providers to focus on the psychological and emotional affect it had on first hand individuals and the community as a whole.

The Santa Rosa, CA Press Democrat detailed the purpose of the Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative. Not only is the WMHC taking down Sonoma County’s wide ranged mental health recovery of the trauma, but they are doing it with pristine.

The Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative allocates ground breaking outreach services, along with free counseling and therapeutic sessions. The WMHC is consistent with their research that helps to keep this going. Essentially, this could be a model that instructs mental health recovery for other communities who have been impacted by natural disasters.

According to officials, there has been a reported increase in usage of mental health hotlines and providers pertaining to post-fire trauma, including the local Crisis Stabilization Unit in west Santa Rosa. The impact that these fires had on Northern California is inconceivable and immeasurable. No one can measure the impact these fires had because there is no place available for the amount of care that is needed. This includes provisions needed by hospitals, clinics, health centers, and private practice therapists and psychiatrists.

The WMHC’s place will provide the resources that will not only help those who have been affected by last years fire, but for future victims of natural disasters, and even past victims. There is no determination of how each individual processes this trauma or what could prompt them to feel sudden distress years after the tragedy. Trauma doesn’t discriminate against anyone when it strikes. Years could go by after someone has been devastated by a fire, then something as simple as turning the burner of your stove on, lighting a candle, smelling a match after it has been put out, could trigger spiraled traumatic symptoms.

Fortunately, the collaborative of the WMHC is not limited to one who needs post-fire trauma help. The approach that they strategically use, engages in the research that will scale the success in relieving symptoms related to trauma with the VA’s PTSD Center. Not only are they focusing on research that will contribute to the success of the post-fire victims, but this will open doors for those who have no where to turn to even years after the fire. With 12-hour expert training for local psychologists, therapists, and social workers, the WMHC gears toward preparing not only others, but themselves for potential future fire trauma. By sending teamed up therapists out to the community, town halls, schools, neighborhood meetings; and even ‘drop-in’ therapy sessions, there is nothing that will stop them from giving the fire victims of Northern California any and all resources they can to help encourage successful psychological and emotional healing.

According to the Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative, its first year alone had a budget that ended up being more than $800,000. Contributions to the WMHC’s have been astounding in surpassing this budget. Leading allies for this have raised and donated well over $200,000 to support the WMHC. The investments of these allies will assist people in trauma recognition and lead the victims to a place that will help them.

Not only will this budget help victims of fire trauma across Northern California, but it will assist in investing into Sonoma County’s National Alliance on Mental Illness. The investment for this will be structured and set in order to help expand hours for counseling and referrals that individuals will be able to utilize for their benefit.

To minimize the impact that fire trauma can have on an individual is incapacitating to the victim and should be handled appropriately. There is not a time restraint on how long it should take a person to heal from such a natural disaster; nor is there a restraint on what it takes to help the psychological and emotional health of post-fire victims even years after the natural disaster has happened.
Due to how uncommon it is to serve natural disaster victims, long-termed and wide ranging mental health assistance and facilities are not only absent but it enables the limitation this puts on the victims. The reality of lacked support and help is more than stifling.

The Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative does not expect the victims of post fire-trauma to just accept what happened to them and simply move on from it. The WMHC is geared to not only wanting more for those who are affected by natural disasters, but actually providing the resources for those who are in need of it and want the help. If the victims are succumbed to traumatic symptoms of the fire even years after the disaster happened, the Wildfire Mental Health Collaboration has its doors open wide to help.

What the Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative is doing is something that will take the lead and stand on wildfire and natural disaster trauma. Because of what the WMHC is doing for their victims with their ground breaking initiative, there is an abundant supply of support to come from those who are in need. This collaborative is something that could essentially be a model that instructs mental health recovery for other communities who have been impacted psychologically and emotionally by natural disasters.

Understanding that the impact of natural disasters such as this, is something that can vary and we don’t want you to go through it alone! Sonoma County PG&E lawsuit attorneys Law Firm may be able to help if you have been a victim of this titanic disaster. Contact Us (707) 986-4410