Jonesboro mental health therapist heads to Texas to help flood victims

Jonesboro mental health therapist heads to Texas to help flood victims
(Source: KAIT)
Donna Parker (Source: KAIT)
Donna Parker (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Jonesboro volunteer left for Texas Monday to help flood victims with their mental health.

Donna Parker is the director of field education in the Social Work Department at Arkansas State University.

She also serves as a mental health therapist for Families Inc. in Jonesboro.

After seeing the devastation from disasters across the country, Parker decided to volunteer with the American Red Cross.

"First national disaster I worked was Hurricane Sandy and since then, locally, I've worked fires, floods, tornadoes, and a chemical spill," Parker said.

Once victims evacuate or get rescued, the disaster they survived begins to set in, and that is where someone like Parker comes to help.

As a mental health responder for the Red Cross, Parker will serve a variety of people in Texas.

"The role of the mental health responder is really just to provide what we call psychological first aid," Parker said. "We offer support. It's also really important that we help them recognize the inner strengths that they have and possibly the support system so this will help them recover from the disaster."

While victims will receive care, Parker said she will also help relief workers.

"They can experience, you know, an enormous amount of stress, so it's important that we help them relieve that stress so they can be successful in delivering their services," Parker said.

Parker flew from Memphis to Dallas Monday and said from there she will find out her assignment.

"I may be some place different every day," Parker said.

As for what to expect, Parker said she will better understand the needs in Texas once she gets inside a shelter and sees what it's like.

"Every disaster is different, and the emotions and the experiences that the victims are having can be on such a wide continuum," Parker said.

Parker said it's rewarding to know she can help in some way.

"We find that people are very resilient after experiences a disaster if they received the appropriate services and feel supported," Parker said.

Parker will spend two weeks in Texas.

Pam Knapp-Carver with the American Red Cross in Jonesboro said they will send more volunteers from Region 8 throughout the week.

Knapp-Carver said recovery from Harvey will take a long time.

If you'd like to help, click here to donate online or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation for those in need.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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