After widespread flooding that destroyed homes and displaced thousands of people, many of those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Irma are now in the middle of a critical period, mental health experts say. That’s because symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) typically start to appear in the weeks following a disaster.
Large-scale disasters, including humanitarian crises and natural disaster, are a focus of mental health professionals when treating and studying trauma. Groups targeted by the World Health Organization for emergency psychological treatment typically include refugees, internally displaced persons, disaster survivors, and populations exposed to terrorism, war, or genocide. Many individuals exposed to traumatic situations will go on to develop psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies of natural disasters such as mudslides, earthquakes, and hurricanes indicate that over half of those affected suffer from significant mental distress as a result. In recent years, renewed focus has been applied to third-world and resource-poor countries in which most humanitarian disasters occur.
“Unlike the physical damage which is all too obvious, the psychological toll will have effects that cascade over time,” Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote in an email. Hurricane Harvey
If you take a drive through Port Aransas, the reminders of Hurricane Harvey are at every turn. For a community of survivors that are trying their best to move on, the psychological effects of the storm are taking a toll.
Those receiving and providing assistance can be affected by the distress of a catastrophic natural disaster. Ideal interventions promote the evidence-based principles of Psychological First Aid, including: safety, calming, self- and community-efficacy, social connectedness, and a sense of hope/optimism. Check out this compilation of related resources.
Psychologist Jean Rhodes of the University of Massachusetts-Boston has spent more than a decade studying what happens to people years after a natural disaster — in this case, Hurricane Katrina.
History suggests that social services will be in high demand for months. Are caseworkers in Texas and Florida prepared?
Years into the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe, human rights activists have accused the European Union of turning a blind eye to Greece’s treatment of refugees and migrants now stuck on the island of Lesbos.
Medical professionals are keeping an eye out for people having difficulty dealing with the trauma of losing their homes during Hurricane Harvey.
Texas cannot wait until the 2019 Legislature Session to act. The children of the Gulf coast deserve an emergency special session of the Texas Legislature that focuses on their needs.
It’s been humbling to witness how these two weeks have brought out the best in Texans as countless people answer the call to give time, money and labor to help communities get back on their feet. Hogg Foundation
Regardless of the state of their schools, thousands of children returning to the classroom are likely to bear invisible wounds from this destructive storm. If untreated, their trauma will make it harder to succeed as students. Hurricane Harvey
In a series of interviews here in New Orleans, 12 years after Katrina’s devastating floods, young survivors, now in their early 20s, agreed only that overcoming the mental strain of displacement is like escaping the rising water itself – a matter of finding something to hold onto, one safe place or reliable person, each time Read more
Houston has started to slowly assess the damage after historic damage from Hurricane Harvey last week — but as the flood water recedes, the city will also have to grapple with threats to public health.
Hurricane Harvey – Within and alongside the community schools model, a central focus will be helping students recover mentally and emotionally from the trauma of the natural disaster. And here, too, there is a contrast with New Orleans a dozen years ago.
“Recovery” is not, as many of us mistakenly believe, about putting everything back together exactly as it was. Instead, it’s finding the best possible new reality, while recognizing that the trauma itself cannot be erased or papered over.
Give an Hour™ Offers Free Mental Health Services in Response to the Massive Destruction of Hurricane Harvey in Texas
Give an Hour™ a national nonprofit 501(c)(3), founded in September 2005, announces that it is opening its network to provide immediate and long term mental health support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Give an Hour will extend these services to those affected by Hurricane Irma should the need arise.
Under federal law, students who are staying in a shelter, with friends or relatives, or in other temporary housing are considered homeless. They can immediately enroll in any Texas school district and must be referred to the services they need, including mental health and housing resources.
Hurricane Harvey – Many youth service organizations have been right in the path of the disaster, and they are working with Child Protective Services and other governmental entities to evacuate the children and youth in their care to safe locations.
Kaiser Permanente has donated $500,000 to support mental health resources for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, marking the first time the health system has specifically targeted mental and emotional health needs as a part of disaster relief funding.
You can also be on the lookout for Hurricane Harvey’s mental health impacts among people who live far from flooded communities. Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, images of the ongoing disaster in Texas have been enough to intensify what some experts call “Katrina brain.”
Crises like Hurricane Harvey test the mettle of us as a country and challenge each of us, along with the organizations that we’re a part of, to step up and contribute what we have to offer for those most in need. Pulling together, we can make a difference, now and in the future.
Once again, Americans, specifically Texans, are faced with a catastrophic event. The pictures of rushing waters, dramatic rescues and heartbreaking stories only begin to reveal what will become for all Texans an even greater challenge: The mental health issues associated with these traumatic events.
As Dr. Ruth Berggren digests the calamity affecting her new home state of Texas, she admits to some PTSD. In 2005, she was an infectious-disease doctor at Charity Hospital in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and she became one of a small number of physicians left to care for 250 patients for six days, Read more
Dr. Stephen Strakowski, the chair of psychiatry for Dell Medical School, explained that about 20 percent of the general population has some kind of mental illness, and those cases are especially common with people who have gone through a trauma like Hurricane Harvey.
Hurricane Harvey – “I’m going to need some counseling. I’m really going to have to talk with someone,” she said. “I’ve been keeping my mind sane because my children are still looking to me, and if I start falling, they are going to fall too.”
“Recovery is a long-term process, and it is one that doesn’t necessarily have a definable beginning end point,” said Alex Greer, an assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma State University.
Out-of-state doctors can temporarily work in Texas without state license to help with Harvey efforts
Texas has temporarily suspended barriers that prevent out-of-state health care providers from working with disaster response teams to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Hurricane Harvey – “Needless to say, people with mental health diseases do not need any other provocation. The minute you begin adding major stressors that add longer-term disruptors to their routine, their therapy often gets provided by the local police department and the county jail.”
Hurricane Harvey – Children in foster care in the greater Houston area are again finding themselves displaced as flood waters have wiped out around 50,000 homes and continue to devastate residences, businesses, and organizations.
One of the many things extreme weather makes difficult is accessing healthcare services, a near impossibility when a deluge of rain has trapped people in homes and shelters. Telemedicine companies are jumping in to fill the void, offering physician consultations remotely to those who may be trapped by flooding and extreme winds.