National Alliance on Mental Illness
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July 25, 2007

Hurricane Katrina

As the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of the Gulf Coast approaches, residents of New Orleans are still struggling with a health care system that is failing them.

The New York Times (opens in a new window, free one time registration required) reports that today only one of seven general hospitals in the city is working at its pre-hurricane level, forcing many city residents to travel great distances for treatment.

The health care system, once a primary private employer in the city, could be a solution to the city’s economic recovery, but with an exodus of medical professionals and limited resources, it is unclear whether this rebirth will happen.

Among the most vulnerable residents are the children of New Orleans. The start of each hurricane season is a psychological anniversary for many of them, creating anxiety about whether it will “happen again.” The severe shortage of mental health specialists means that most children will not have their recurring anxieties addressed.

Without support, these children, the future of the city, will be more susceptible to depression and teenage suicide.

The Catholic News Service recently reported on children and mental health care.