Counselors encourage tornado victims to seek psychological help

Jason Galloway

Traumatic events can have lasting effects, which is why the UA Counseling Center and other psychiatrists have stressed the importance of tornado victims to seek help.

“It’s extremely important,” said Lee Keyes, the executive director of the UA Counseling Center. “The thing about [post-traumatic stress disorder] is that it can be mitigated. Severe forms can be prevented all together if people get help quickly.”

The UA Counseling Center is located across the street from the Law School on Jackson Ave. and is now back to on its regular business hours. Keyes said appointments can be scheduled through the phone, or in more urgent cases, just by walk-ins.

He also said for urgent cases that come after business hours, patients can get connected through UAPD, and that the center is willing to meet patients at their current location.

According to Keyes, the UA Counseling Center was set up at four different locations after the storm hit, including the Rec Center and their center on Jackson Ave. He estimates that the Counseling Center alone has talked to about 250-300 students since the tornado hit.

“We deal with people who have experienced trauma all the time, but not on this scale,” Keyes said. “[This] involves hundreds, if not thousands of people.”

Other counselors and psychiatrists around Tuscaloosa and Northport opened up their doors Monday for the first time since the tornado. Takesha Shannon from TMS Counseling LLC in Northport is one of those and said tornado victims should not delay getting the psychological treatment they need.

“Right now, people are more concerned with feeding themselves, getting their necessities met,” she said. “It’s difficult for them to realize that their emotional needs also have to be a priority. These experiences can have lasting effects that can impact our ability to function.”

Shannon said 40 percent of her practice is college students and that UA and Stillman College have referred students to her in the past. Keyes said the UA Counseling Center is likely the best source for students with psychological needs because of their experience with college-aged patients.

“We only work with students, so we feel like we know students better than any other mental health providers,” Keyes said. “We understand more about their lives and the resources that are here for them on campus. You can think of us specializing in the age group that is usually here enrolled in school.”

The UA Counseling Center can be reached by calling 205-348-3863.