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For Practitioners Who Can Help Flood Victims

A Call To Practitioners To Provide Free Supportive Counseling
For People Impacted By The Ellicott City Flood

HELP-U is a network of private sector mental health providers in Howard County and surrounding areas who are committed to providing short-term counseling services to residents impacted by a community-wide crisis.

We are currently seeking to create a database of mental health providers who agree to provide pro-bono services to Ellicott City Main Street community members displaced by the flood.

How To Provide Pro Bono Crisis Counseling Through HELP-U

The information below is intended to provide a clear and practical guide for how to become involved in the HELP-U effort to assist the flood survivors.

What is expected of me if I sign up for the HELP-U network?

Although practitioners are free to engage their clients from the HELP-U Network in any fashion that fits with their practice standards and style, we are recommending you use a short-term, supportive, EAP-type model of a maximum of 3-5 free counseling sessions.

We anticipate that most practitioners will conduct an initial phone screen to make sure the prospective client is appropriate for their practice. For example, a client who is at high risk of suicide should immediately be referred to an Emergency Room and not seen in an outpatient setting.

Following the phone screening, the provider can set up an initial appointment with the new client. We believe that 3-5 sessions should provide enough time for an assessment of key challenges and needs; and opportunity for emotional stabilization; and discussions of and referral to longer-term resources in the community. The HELP-U Practitioner Guidelines For Short-Term Counseling will provide more information on implementing a pro bono, short-term counseling arrangement with HELP-U clients.

We strongly advise reviewing and utilizing as appropriate all of the support materials in the HELP-U Resource Packet. The link for the Guidelines and all other materials in the Resource Packet will be provided in the confirmation email you will receive after signing up. These materials provide a framework for delivering crisis services in a way that ensures the highest quality care, while encouraging practices that protect and make clear the rights and responsibilities of clients and practitioners alike.

How do I sign up to help?

Please follow the two easy steps below to have your practice information entered into the HELP U Referral Network database and to access the Practitioner Resource Packet.

Please Make Sure That You Complete Both Steps Below.

STEP ONE – Click on this link to access the HELP U Practitioner Participation Agreement. ( ). You will be asked to complete the Practitioner Participation Agreement, which allows us to verify that you will follow basic mental health professional standards in your work with the flood survivors. Completion and return of this form is necessary for your name to be retained in the HELP U database.

Once you have completed step one, clients will be able to access your practice information in the HELP U Referral Network database. The client has the responsibility for contacting you to set up their initial appointment.

STEP TWO –You will receive a confirmation e-mail from us with directions on how to access the Practitioner Resource Packet. We strongly encourage you to utilize these resources, which we think will be helpful in working with you HELP-U clients in a short-term counseling setting.

Which mental health professionals can participate in the HELP-U network?

In order to ensure that the quality of care falls within generally accepted practice standards, we are requesting applicants have one of the following degrees and are licensed and certified for clinical practice:

  • LCSW-C
  • LCPC
  • MD
  • PsyD
  • PhD in Clinical Psychology or Social Work
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner PMHNP

What resources are available to assist me with my HELP-U clients?

Since most outpatient mental health practitioners provide longer-term treatment rather than crisis services, we have created a set of resources that we think will help you in your work with the Ellicott City clients.

Once you choose to participate, you may follow the link provided in your confirmation e-mail to the HELP-U Resource Packet for some basic resources on doing short-term, pro bono work:

  • Help-U Guidelines For Short-Term Counseling
  • Informed Consent Form For Clients
  • Screen For Acute Stress Disorder
  • Assessment Of Suicidal Risk
  • Help-U Resource List

How long does my participation in the HELP-U network last?

Since HELP-U has been created to serve members of the Ellicott City Main Street community impacted by the flood, we expect to keep the HELP-U database open until December 2016, at which time we hope that most crisis mental health needs would have been met.

Our goal, however, is to keep the HELP-U database open in order to address future community crises in Howard County. When you sign up to join the HELP U Network, we will maintain your information in the database so we can mobilize more quickly in the future.

The section below provides instructions for how to remove your name from the database or change your status at any time if you do not wish to remain an active participant.

How do I change my status with the HELP-U network?

If at any time you wish to withdraw from this database or temporarily suspend your participation (for example, if you have reached your limit of pro-bono clients), please click on this link to access the Help-U Practitioner Change Of Status Form. Use the form to indicate how you would like your status modified.

What about malpractice risk?

We urge you to contact your malpractice insurance carrier if you have any concerns regarding how to manage potential exposure to malpractice risk. HELP-U is a network that lists crisis mental health resources and does not accept responsibility for malpractice coverage issues or malpractice claims.

Is HELP-U the only group offering pro bono coverage for the Ellicott City flood survivors?

Many private and public sector agencies are coordinating their efforts to provide assistance to the members of the Ellicott City Main Street community impacted by the flood. A list of these groups is included on the Practitioner Resource List.

Thank you for participating in the HELP-U network.

Your contribution of time and caring will make a huge difference In the lives of the many people impacted by the flood.