Mental Illness Doubled in New Orleans after Katrina
The Wall Street Journal reported today that:
"A survey of Hurricane Katrina survivors found that the proportion of people with mental illnesses -- from increased anxiety to severe conditions like schizophrenia -- nearly doubled after the storm, confirming widespread belief and anecdotal evidence of a heavy psychological toll.
The study, led by Harvard Medical School, also found that thoughts of suicide declined sharply among those with mental illnesses.
Harvard said its survey is the most comprehensive to date of the mental-health effects on residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who lived in Katrina's path and whose lives as they knew them were uprooted, in some cases forever, when the hurricane struck a year ago today.
In the poll of 1,043 adults identified through random digit-dialing, Red Cross lists and other means, the researchers found 31% suffered some form of mental illness in the first several months after the storm, compared with 16% in a 2003 mental-health survey of the same general population conducted by Harvard for the U.S. government. Of the total surveyed, 11% suffered a serious mental illness such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia; in the 2003 survey, 6.1% experienced a serious mental illness."
The full report was published in the latest online edition of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (see link below)
Read the report: Mental illness and suicidality after hurricane Katrina - Ronald C. Kessler, Sandro Galea, Russell T. Jones, & Holly A. Parker on behalf of the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group
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