Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Post-Katrina mental health

Nearly two years on, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina still falls disproportionately on the working poor-- those most affected by the initial storm, the subsequent bureaucratic mismanagement and the attendant economic realities that comprise the current landscape.

Alix Spiegel's two-part story of the residents of Scenic Trails, a trailer park that houses many Katrina evacuees in Mississippi, brought tears to my eyes several times.

Jimmy Carter said that "the measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens." I believe that's generally true, and I also think that Americans want to help support people battling the effects of Katrina. Unfortunately, the government and health systems that serve this very marginalized population are not cutting the mustard.

Mental health problems were rampant in every person Ms. Spiegel interviewed. According to mental healthcare providers, the source of the widespread suicidal thoughts in this community was a lack of security, opportunity and isolation. Children are growing up in this environment; their parents turning to meth and crack to escape the grinding poverty. Whatever your thoughts about these people's contributions to society prior to Katrina, this is no way to treat folks who've already lost everything.

I'd like to find a way to donate some money directly to agencies and organizations that serve this and other populations left behind in the Katrina recovery.

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