Flooding can take toll on mental health

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - The damage from the floods have been traumatic for Nebraskans to experience and watch unfold on social media. These events have placed many people under a great mental strain and healthcare providers want to make sure people can manage their mental health.

Officials from the Region 3 Behavioral Health Services said those who have lost property, livestock, or other belonging have gone through stages of grief and distress.

“You know you're going from everything was ok to literally in some places overnight everything is gone,” Disaster Coordinator Caleb Davis said. “I've heard stories of farmers that have three feet of sand in their corn field or had 400 head of hog and are now down to 14. It's huge loss.”

Even those who have not been directly impacted can feel a sense of anxiety and depression from frequently watching damage videos or reading the latest news updates.

“I think it's like a vicarious trauma like you're seeing this happen to people you know,” Davis said. “It's in your state. Omaha, Columbus, it's so widespread. Every river from what I have been told in this state has flooded, every creek.”

They say farmers who have lost cattle, land, or will be delayed planting are most at risk for mental health issues during this time.

“In disasters, everyone is going to experience this differently,” Davis said. “We have those fears of is this going to reoccur or how am I going to recover from this and those are all normal reactions to a very abnormal situation.”

Region 3 has a number of resources for those affected by floods. If you live in a smaller town that doesn't have access to a counselor, they have hotlines to call for immediate assistance.

They also have information on how to talk to children about their fears and anxiety during these traumatic events.

Nebraska Family Helpline: 1-800-866-8660

Nebraska Rural Response Hotline: 1-800-464-0258

Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273- TALK (8255)