The state Department of Health is partnering with FEMA to offer free counseling to children and youth struggling with depression and anxiety after the recent floods. Assistant Secretary for the Office of Behavioral Health, Dr. Jim Hussey, says parents should be aware of strange behaviors their children may be exhibiting after this traumatic flood.

“Some of the younger kids can regress a bit and maybe go back to things like thumb sucking and bedwetting as an expression of their fear and anxiety about this,” Hussey said.

Hussey says children may appear aggressive, withdrawn, or hyperactive. He says it’s important to give these kids a sense of normalcy as much as possible, and parents should also model good behavior.

“Take nice deep breaths with them, get down to their eye level and speak, be calm, have a gentle voice, help them understand that they’re safe,” Hussey said.

Hussey says if parents notice these changes in their kids, they can call the Spirit Crisis Line at 866-310-7977. He says they can also take their children to a private practitioner or a state behavioral health clinic.

“Here in Louisiana we have our human service districts and authorities that provide ongoing individual, family, and group therapy,” Hussey said.