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Mental health a top priority in Northern California wildfires recovery, providers say

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One year later: How we've changed

This is part of a report on the one-year anniversary of the October 2017 wildfires that forced tens of thousands to flee quickly and destroyed thousands of homes. Read more personal accounts from business and civic leaders as well as updates on the economic recovery.

A number of new programs and organizations have emerged since the October 2017 wildfires, offering mental health support services to survivors. Several are at the forefront, including California HOPE, the Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative and the Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative.

California HOPE is a federally funded program managed through the county of Sonoma. The program will send crisis counselors to wherever anyone in need may be — at home, school, work. The counselors specialize in helping survivors understand their current reactions, reduce stress, receive emotional support, prioritize needs and solve problems, choose coping strategies, and connect with people and agencies who can help, according to the organization.

The Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative, led by Debbie Mason, CEO of the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County, continues to provide a wide range of free mental health recovery care services for wildfire survivors.

“We are committed to raising $1.1 million this year, and more than $600,000 next year to fund the mental health needs of our community post-wildfires,” Mason told the Business Journal over the summer.

Also leading the charge is the Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative, launched this year by Santa Rosa Community Health. The multiyear program is designed to give people the necessary tools and resources for self-healing after going through a trauma, according to Naomi Fuchs, CEO.

The initiative is intended to help the community in the long term, as Fuchs previously explained to the Business Journal: “We don’t want to have a secondary disaster.”

One year later: How we've changed

This is part of a report on the one-year anniversary of the October 2017 wildfires that forced tens of thousands to flee quickly and destroyed thousands of homes. Read more personal accounts from business and civic leaders as well as updates on the economic recovery.

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