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For People Impacted By The Ellicott City Flood

How To Get H.E.L.P. U Free Counseling

What Is The Help-U Network?

HELP-U is a network of mental health practitioners who – in an effort to support the Ellicott City Main Street community -- have agreed voluntarily to provide a limited number of free sessions of crisis counseling services to survivors of the Ellicott City flood; and to identify and link them with other providers for longer-term care.

The HELP-U website provides access to the database of these practitioners.

Who May Use The Help-U Services?

Business owners, employees and residents who were impacted by the July 30 flood are eligible to use the HELP-U database of practitioners offering free counseling sessions.

How Do I Find A Practitioner Who Can Help Me?

This link directs you to the list of HELP-U practitioners. (Depending upon your browser, you may have to either Click or Control-Click on the link.) You may contact any practitioner you like for an initial intake over the phone, at which time the practitioner or their office staff will also schedule your first appointment.

Who Are The Help-U Practitioners?

All of the practitioners who have agreed to provide free services through HELP-U are mental health providers licensed and certified in their respective professions.

To ensure that they provide you with the best possible care during this difficult time, all of the clinicians are committed to practicing the highest possible standard of care of their professions, including:

  1. Maintaining their malpractice insurance that covers the services they will provide to you.
  2. Maintaining their professional licensure.
  3. Operating by the ethical standards of their profession; and
  4. Maintaining the confidentiality of all clinical information gathered from you; only releasing this information if necessary for treatment purposes; and only with your written consent.

What Can I Expect When I Call A Help-U Practitioner?

1. The purpose of your counseling sessions are:

  • To determine your emotional needs and challenges, especially as they relate to the July 30 flood in Ellicott City;
  • To provide you with an opportunity to process feelings associated with the flood and the losses that occurred at that time; and
  • To determine the best resources to refer you to for on-going mental health care, if necessary, as well as other community services.

2. The practitioner will conduct a brief screening over the phone to determine how they might best be of help to you and will schedule your first appointment. At this time, they might also explain what to expect from your work with them.

3. The practitioner will set up a maximum of 3-5 supportive counseling sessions with you. The exact number will be determined by the practitioner based on your needs.

4. During the course of your work, the practitioner will:

  • Assess your emotional needs
  • Help you manage some of your symptoms with techniques for emotional self-regulation
  • Help identify resources in the community that can be of continued help
  • Refer you and provide contact information for those resources

5. Both you and the practitioner have the option of terminating the care at any time. If care is terminated by your practitioner, they will refer you to follow-up care.

6. Accepting services from a practitioner in no way obligates you to engage in any future services with them beyond your free sessions. It is always your choice to determine if and where you will receive mental health care in the future. The list of HELP-U participating providers can be found here. (Depending upon your browser, you may have to either Click or Control-Click on the link.)

7. Counseling services will vary depending on the professional approach of the clinician and your specific needs. Talk with your clinician about expectations, length of free services and referrals for on-going services after the free period.

8. In a small number of cases, you and your practitioner may decide that fewer than 3 free sessions are needed before they refer you to other resources in the community. Talk to your practitioner about how they want to handle the possibility of you returning to them in the future for a few additional free sessions.

Will I Always Be Accepted For Care From The Practitioner?

For the vast majority of people who call HELP-U for care, they will be able to be seen by the practitioner they choose in the outpatient setting. For most people, even when they are in crisis, they are able – and safe enough – to benefit from this level of care.

For a very limited number of people, during the intake phone call, the practitioner may determine that your symptoms are severe enough that you would be better served by obtaining a more intense level of care than out-patient. If that occurs, they will provide you with the names and contact information of an agency or program that would be of more immediate and appropriate help for you.

You may always return to HELP-U and select a practitioner from the database once your symptoms have stabilized and you are ready for outpatient care.

Do The Practitioners Work For Help-U?

HELP-U does not employ, manage or provide supervision for any of the practitioners listed on the database. It is only a listing service created for the purpose of providing access to free mental health care in the time of community crises.