By Meg Waters
It’s hard to believe that it’s been six months since the flood. The shock of the experience still feels fresh sometimes. I should say that I was not severely impacted. I evacuated, but I never feared for my life. I didn’t lose my house, my car, or any other property except some food in the freezer and refrigerator. But whenever I talk about the experience, I get emotional. For people who are still feeling psychological effects of the flood, some good resources are available.
One that has been in place since last fall is a program offering vouchers for mental health services. Provided by the Foothills Flood Relief Fund at Foothills United Way, the vouchers are available to everyone living in the mountain communities of Boulder
County, including Lyons, who was directly affected by the flood of September 2013. They’re certainly available to individuals and families who are still displaced, but they’re available to the rest of us as well.
“The focus of this program is to help folks work through trauma from the flood,” says Amy Hardy, mountain resource coordinator for Foothills United Way.
The program covers mental health services including trauma therapy modalities, and one-on-one and family counseling. Vouchers can be used for sessions with the mental health practitioner of the voucher recipient’s choice, as long as the practitioner is licensed or registered with the state of Colorado and is willing to contract directly with Foothills United Way.
Residents who are interested complete an application in conjunction with the mental health service provider they want to work with. Once approved, the voucher is valid for eight months, for an amount of up to $500 per individual or $1,500 per household with children. Participating mental health providers bill Foothills United Way directly for services rendered. No individual session can cost more than $200.
Finally, a resource with a more targeted audience is the enhanced presence of Adriana Blacker in the Lyons Middle/Senior High School. Prior to the flood, Adriana was working halftime as the school’s prevention/interventionist, providing one-on-one counseling and crisis management, facilitating student support groups, and teaching students skills that will help them achieve social and emotional well-being as well as academic success. Since the flood, her time in the school has expanded.
“With some kids, I’m working on issues related to the trauma of the flood, helping them learn to cope and manage stressors so they can move forward,” Blacker says. “With others, I’m working on issues that they don’t necessarily label as a flood impact. But I’m seeing more stress, more anxiety, more depression, and some kids have turned to unsafe coping behaviors. For some kids who were already having difficulty managing stress or dealing with other mental health issues, the flood has intensified those issues.”