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Government's Web Tips for Tough Economic Times

By Ed O'Keefe

With many Americans trying to cope with the pressures of layoffs and plummeting economic fortunes, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration launched a new Web page last night with tips on how to cope with the stress and potential health side effects of the nation's economic situation.

The new Web page raises warning flags for people suffering from persistent sadness or crying, excessive anxiety, a lack of sleep or constant fatigue, and excessive irritability or anger.

"Economic turmoil (e.g., increased unemployment, foreclosures, loss of investments and other financial distress) can result in a whole host of negative health effects -- both physical and mental," according to the Web site. "It can be particularly devastating to your emotional and mental well-being. Although each of us is affected differently by economic troubles, these problems can add tremendous stress." The site suggests the nation's economic woes could lead some Americans to develop problems including depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors or substance abuse.

Established in 1992, SAMHSA is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services tasked with improving the lives of Americans with mental health or substance abuse issues. The Rockville, Md.-based agency has 534 employees and was budgeted $3.4 billion during fiscal year 2008.

Contrary to the assumptions of the Drudge Report, the agency regularly provides tips on how to deal with mental health and substance abuse issues, especially around times of national concern or crisis.

The new page includes information from SAMHSA and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor and Treasury. It links readers to a Mental Health Service Locator with mental health resources, contacts and services for each state and the District of Columbia. The agency published similar pages following the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina to address potential mental health or substance abuse concerns arising from those events, according to HHS officials.

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 31, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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