UCLA leads national effort to address New Orleans' mental health needs

from top to bottom."

Community services that are back in New Orleans report that adults are exhibiting stress related health problems and having difficulty dealing with issues of family life in such an abnormal environment, and that children are suffering as well, said Carmen Weisner, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers' Louisiana Chapter. Support systems in the community are struggling, she said.

"Social workers in New Orleans see the treatment of the residents of this great city is as critical as the rebuilding of homes and businesses," Weisner said.

The New Orleans mental health project, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, needs additional volunteers.

"We're looking for volunteers from A to Z," Mays said. "We're looking for people with heart and passion and a real commitment to help, over a short time. You don't need a background in psychology to help. Check our website to learn how you can help -- http://www.minorityhealthdisparities.org/ -- call our offices at (310) 206-5265 or e-mail us at cmhd@ucla.edu."

Volunteers who speak Vietnamese and Spanish are especially needed, as are volunteers with computer skills, including Web development. Volunteers also are needed to help the project collect books and school supplies for children, and prepare materials for self-help efforts.

Joseph is hopeful about the mental health program, saying, "New Orleans needs a new way to approach mental health and new places where people can seek mental health care without a stigma attached to it. I like the folks at the table. They have the creativity and the professional credentials to make this work."

The American Psychological Association is holding its annual convention in New Orleans Aug. 1013, and more than 6,000 psychologists from across the country are expected to attend. Mays is askin

Contact: Stuart Wolpert
University of California - Los Angeles

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