Coastal mental health survey begins Tuesday

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Gulf Coast residents will have a chance to share their mental health and environmental needs and concerns with state and federal officials during a household survey on Oct. 12 and 13.

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) has asked assistance from the Mississippi State Department of Health's Office of Epidemiology (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct a behavioral health needs assessment in Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties. The survey will measure how Mississippi Gulf Coast residents are reacting to the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast oil spill.

Houses will be chosen using computerized mapping techniques. Individuals contacted will be asked about their needs and health after the oil spill so that the CDC, DOH and DMH can get a better idea of what kind of help people need.

If a person agrees to participate in the survey, they will be asked some general questions about their house and the people who live there. The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and answers will be kept private. Individuals can refuse to be part of the survey or refuse to answer any of the questions.

BP provided $12 million initial contribution to DMH to support its efforts to help Mississippi residents in the coastal communities access appropriate behavioral health services. The funding will help residents link up with support that is available through providers in their communities.

DMH will administer grants to public and private providers in the areas impacted by the oil spill.

For individuals who are having difficulty coping with prior emotional issues, it is recommended that they seek professional assistance during this stressful time. For more information, contact the Oil Spill Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.

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