Many Mississippi residents who were displaced to trailer parks by Hurricane Katrina continue to report unmet mental health and other health service needs, according to a study published online Aug. 29 by Health Affairs. The survey of people living last September in trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency found more than two-thirds of those with major depressive disorder or suicide thoughts had not received mental health services since displacement.
Half of respondents reported delaying primary care for children and four in 10 reported delaying primary care for adults, primarily due to a lack of money or insurance. Among other action, the authors recommend federal legislation to ensure long-term mental health services for those who remain displaced after a disaster.
Mississippi Hospital Association President and CEO Sam Cameron said, “The emotional damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina is just as real as the physical damage. We need to continue to work towards mental health parity in disaster response, just as we are working towards it in Congress.”