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Katrina Mental Health

December 5, 2007

The mental health of Katrina victims isn’t improving like it should – and in some cases, it’s getting worse.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Katrina’s lingering dark clouds. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

They say time heals all wounds, but in the case of Hurricane Katrina, time isn’t working like it should. This according to a recent update on the mental health of those affected by the disaster. Study director Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School says that rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts usually spike right after a major disaster but gradually decline over the next few years.

RONALD KESSLER (Harvard Medical School):
In the case of Katrina, we found not only a failure to see any evidence of recovery, but they actually got worse.

HIRSHON:
Looking more closely, they found that the worst off were people living outside the New Orleans metropolitan area. Kessler says that in the two years since Katrina, these more isolated communities might have felt increasingly short-shrifted with respect to both charitable aid and national sympathy. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.