The Human Cry in New Orleans
Our Views: Mental Health issue of storms
NPR: Mental Issues Surge, Suicide Rates Flat Post-Katrina [RealPlayer]
Mental illness and suicidality after Hurricane Katrina [pdf]
U.S. Hurricane Disasters in the Gulf/National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [pdf]
This week there are dozens of events planned to both celebrate and memorialize the post-Katrina landscape throughout the region affected last fall by this traumatic event. Along with these events, several studies released this week reveal the current state of mental health throughout the region. Researchers at the Harvard School of Medicine conducted one such study, and their findings are in some ways quite encouraging. Published jointly in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the study concluded that while mental health problems roughly doubled in the months after the disaster, those persons with existing mental health problems had fewer thoughts of suicide. In addition, Professor Ron Kessler observed that some 400,000 people in the region may have mental health problems as a result of the storm. Interestingly enough, the study also found that eight out of ten survey respondents reported that had found a new sense of inner strength as a result of their experiences with Hurricane Katrina. Of course, others remain unconvinced of certain positive findings of the study, particularly because some long-term mental health problems may take years to be fully realized in the general population of the region. Though it may take the country years to grasp the total ramifications of Hurricane Katrina, this study looks beyond the more obvious and well-publicized physical and financial impacts and sheds some important light on the mental toll of catastrophes.
The first link takes users to a well-written piece on this recent report on mental health in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast region offered by Joseph P. Williams of the Boston Globe. The second link leads to a piece from Forbes.com that offers some first-hand perspectives by those struggling with mental health problems in the region. The third link leads to a discerning piece on the mental health situation in the area, from Channel 2 in Baton Rouge. The fourth link will take users to an audio story from National Public Radio that includes an interview with the mental health researchers that worked on this recent study. The fifth link leads to the full-text report of the mental health study, which was also published as part of the World Health Organization’s online series. The last link leads to a very nice set of mental health resources created by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
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