Resources available for children's mental health after Hurricane Michael

There are various resources available this summer for children in need of mental health assistance. (WJHG/WECP)

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - More than eight months after Hurricane Michael, children in our area are still suffering from the effects of the storm.

"A lot of our students here in the district are still continuing to experience symptoms of traumatic stress disorder, anxiety," Director of Student Services at Bay District Schools, Kara Mulkusky, said.

Now into the summer season, Bay District schools officials worry about the absence of a stable school environment for kids.

"One thing that we're really concerned about over the summer is just, you know, regression over all, regression as far as academics go but as well as behavior," Mulkusky said.

Mental health professionals say there are certain signs to keep an eye out for in children.

"Becoming tearful or agitated whenever they see weather changing, being hyper-vigilant, and that means, you know, startling easy or, you know, being obsessed with the weather and news and stuff like that, being more withdrawn," Project H.O.P.E.'s Team Lead Dawn Carissan said.

If you see these symptoms, they say knowing what resources are available can make a difference.

"I think that's really the most important thing, is being aware of, what your child is showing you differently, and then figuring out how to address that," Carissan said.

Professionals say each child was impacted by the hurricane, but in different ways.

"The kids that had more stability and stuff through the storm have more resiliency and are recovering better," Carissan said. "Children that were having problems prior to the storm are having a more difficult time because they don't have the resources available to them."

Hurricane Michael left a lasting effect, but local mental health resources are what can make the true difference for area children.

Resources available to the public for mental health issues include:

-Life Management Center (850) 522 - 4485, available 24/7
-Project Hope (850) 522 - 4485 ext. 1840, available 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
-Bay Districts Schools Help Hotline (850) 767 - HELP(4357), available 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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