People struggling with mental health issues like anxiety and depression have a difficult time under the best of circumstances. Now imagine them trying to cope after being forced from their homes for more than 10 days -- part of that time without their medication.
Michele Green-Ferrante, a program director at the New Jersey Mental Health Association, doesn't have to imagine. She's working with 20 clients displaced from their Toms River-area homes by Hurricane Sandy, helping them find places to stay and pharmacies that can fill their prescriptions.
“A lot of folks came here very quickly and did not have their medication,” Green-Ferrante said.
While New Jersey’s healthcare system plans for emergencies, providers have often had to make decisions on the fly throughout the crisis. And that exacts a toll: Some residents and providers have faced more than a week of unrelieved stress.
State and local health officials emphasized that mental health and other resources are readily available for those who are in need of help.
Leslie Terjesen, spokeswoman for the Ocean County Department of Health, said she advises patience for those who still can’t return to potentially damaged homes, while admitting that the advice is difficult to both take and give.
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