Team Restoration Grand Bahama’s primary purpose is dedicated to caring for the mental health of residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Founded by clinical psychologist Dr. Pamula Mills, a Bahamian now residing in The United States, a team of volunteers were assembled immediately after the passing of the storm, when Mills returned home to formulate a number of exercises and workshops to assist those severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
Now, some five months later, volunteer and Public Relations Officer for Team Restoration Grand Bahama, Deborah Pratt revealed that the group continues it mission and is available to help any and all that may be in need of counseling.
“As many would know, based on a previous article published in this daily with Dr. Pamula Mills, she traveled to the island about two weeks after Dorian had passed. There were 40-plus persons that were trained by her, to be counselors. We spent three days in a workshop and then we went out into the communities, to introduce ourselves and let persons know that we are here to assist them, if anyone was feeling distressed or felt as if they needed counseling.
“We went through the communities conducting community walkabouts, in all of the main areas that were actually impacted or affected in some way by Hurricane Dorian,” Pratt said.
While conducting the walkabouts, informing persons of their objective, Pratt shared that those they spoke with were receptive many of whom wanted to talk, to share their stories and their experiences.
“While we spoke to a lot of them, from that we also took names and actually have had ongoing counseling sessions with them,” she added.
Pratt revealed that five months later, the work of Team Restoration Grand Bahama continues. “Team Restoration is still here. We have not been doing so much community walkabouts as we did in the beginning, but we have five hotline numbers.”
Pratt expressed that it is important for persons impacted by Dorian, either in a direct or indirect way, to remember that seeking help or counseling is nothing to be embarrassed about.
“Some persons, when they hear about talking to counselors, they tend to feel embarrassed and feel that they can handle things on their own; especially with us being a Christian nation, many persons say that they will talk to God and God will be the one to help me. God designed it where He has persons out there that can also help you, in terms of counseling you, sitting you down and talking with you.
“First of all, there is no need for persons to be embarrassed. Secondly, everything that we do is confidential. We want persons to know that it is very important for them to actually seek help, if they are feeling distressed.”
She added that there are signs that one can look for inwardly, as well as some that family members or friends may be exhibiting that might suggest that they may need to seek professional help.
“There are certain signs that they can look out for. If they are not eating, as they did in the past or if they are losing their appetite, not sleeping well or having a lot of flashbacks, especially during times when we are having inclement weather.
“If they are unable to actually socialize as they did in the past. Those are signs that they can look for in others to recommend to them as well. Those are things that they would also want to look for in themselves as well, realizing themselves that they possibly need help,” Pratt explained.
“According to Dr. Pamula Mills, who is the founder of Team Restoration and a Clinical Psychologist, sometimes it can take six months to a year after a disaster, for persons to really begin feeling a lot of these symptoms as it relates to depression, after the fact.
“We are encouraging persons to seek the help. Do not be afraid to come and talk, whether they choose to go to someone else, a psychologist somewhere else or if they choose to come to us as counselors with Team Restoration Grand Bahama.
“We are here to help and if we feel that they need further help, keeping in mind that all of us are not clinical psychologists but we have been trained to do this job, then we know exactly when it is time to refer them to someone else, a clinical psychologist,” she said.
She thanked fellow local partners for their assistance with respect to their hotline numbers being used for persons to call should they want to seek the assistance of Team Restoration Grand Bahama.
“The Grand Bahama Rotary Disaster Relief Committee came on board with us to extend our hotline numbers for an additional three months, for which we are truly grateful,” concluded Pratt.
The hotline numbers are as follows: 802-6518; 802-6525;802-6523; 802-6527.
For those seeking to speak with a Creole speaking volunteer, they are urged to call 802-6536.