224764 Persistence of mental health needs in New Orleans four years after Hurricane Katrina

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 11:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Alina Olteanu, MD, PhD , Department of Pediatrics, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA
Ruth Arnberger, MSW, LCSW , Department of Pediatrics, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA
Roy Grant, MA , The Children's Health Fund, New York, NY
Research on the impact of disasters on children shows that mental health effects are widespread (beyond the area and population directly affected) and long lasting. Data from a mega-disaster, the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, show that the impact on children in New York City was, consistent with trauma literature, most severe for children at risk because of poverty, prior traumatic exposures, psychosocial and psychiatric problems. Hurricane Katrina was the most devastating natural disaster to strike the U.S., with its impact dramatically compounded by the flooding caused by the breach of the levees protecting the city of New Orleans. The low-lying, high minority, high poverty communities of New Orleans were devastated in the ensuing flood, homes and schools destroyed, and thousands of children and families evacuated. This dislocation lasted months and years, often with multiple changes of transitional residence and disrupted school attendance. As children returned to New Orleans their mental health needs were evident. The New Orleans Children's Health Project (NOCHP), a service of Tulane University in partnership with Children's Health Fund, began as a disaster relief medical service and became a part of the city's healthcare safety net. In 2008, 31% of pediatric patients required mental health/case management services. We will present data from a review of medical and mental health charts of children seen during the first six months of 2009 (nearly four years after the hurricane) focusing on qualitative data from patients who received mental health services through NOCHP describing psychiatric symptoms and post-hurricane experiences.

Learning Areas:
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this session, participants will: 1. Discuss the mental health impact of disasters on children; 2. Expalin the importance of disaster mental health services in community recovery

Keywords: Disasters, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a licensed clinican in New Orleans and I provide direct clinical services to families and children in a community-based clinic. I am also on the faculty at Tulane and oversee all research and data collection activities for the New Orleans Children's Health Project within Tulane Department of Pediatrics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.