[UPDATE] Hotline to Help Aid Oil Spill Victims

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

Tallahassee, FL -

From fishermen to real estate agents, to beach shop employees stressed out over the loss of income, a new hotline is open to help… not with collecting a claim, but reclaiming mental stability.

In this undisclosed location south of Tallahassee, operators handle a bevy of different hot lines.

Everything from helping with utility payments, to pregnancies, to AIDS.

This past weekend, a hotline to help oil spill victims deal with mental distress went online. Carrie Tyree had received a number of Deep Horizon related calls.

“What about my job those kinds of things,” said Tyree.

While the oil is gone. It’s impact is lasting. The oil spill distress hot line will be in place for 15 months, funded by a grant from BP. Director Randy Nicklaus says oil distress calls are just beginning to come in

“We’re treating this as a post disaster distress oil disaster help line, and we’re helping people with all kinds of family issues they might be experiencing, in addition to their economic issues,” said Nicklaus.

The hotline center handled 60 thousand calls last year…and expects that number to increase as the oil spill continues to take its toll. BP has funded ten million dollars for mental health outreach. Florida is receiving one hundred forty thousand dollars to operate the hot line. The number to call is 800-985-5990.

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211 Big Bend Release:

Tallahassee, Florida – 2-1-1 Big Bend, Inc. launched the Oil Spill Distress Helpline earlier this month to assist Florida residents impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. During the first few days of operation, the new helpline, 800-985-5990, received 60 calls from Floridians struggling with stress, anger and resentment caused by the economic and psychological impact of the spill. This week, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling; however, it will be weeks or months before drilling resumes, exacerbating frustration for those eager to resume their livelihoods.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said 2-1-1 Big Bend President Randy Nicklaus. “As we continue our community outreach efforts we anticipate more calls. Some may feel that the oil spill is behind us, but we remain committed to helping those families still dealing with its impacts.”

In September, the Gallup-Healthways Emotional Health Index revealed a decline in the overall emotional health of residents along the Gulf Coast. When compared to those living inland, coastal-living residents reported 25.6 percent more clinical diagnoses of depression since the spill. According to Gallup, “the notable increase in diagnoses reveals that clinical depression along the Gulf coastline was climbing at a time when it was flat throughout the remainder of the country.”

“It’s heartbreaking. These hardworking Floridians pride themselves on self-sufficiency,” said 2-1-1 Big Bend Director of Hotline Programs Rosey Ilic. “The impacts of the oil spill are out of their control, creating frustration and stress. We’re here to guide them to help.”

Administered by The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Oil Spill Distress Helpline routes Florida callers to 2-1-1 Big Bend, Inc. 2-1-1 Big Bend answers more than 50,000 calls each year through its six hotline programs. The regional 2-1-1 helpline program is a 24/7 service that assisted more than 25,000 callers last year. Thousands of people have sought help for unemployment, utilities, food, housing and mental health concerns. Anyone can dial 2-1-1 in the Capital Area for help with these issues and other concerns.

For more information about 2-1-1 Big Bend and the Oil Spill Distress Helpline, visit www.211bigbend.org. 2-1-1 Big Bend is a United Way Agency.


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