Anxiety still rampant in Katrina kids
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 2010
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A startling number of Gulf coast area children displaced by Hurricane Katrina still have serious emotional or behavioral problems five years later, a new study found.
More than one in three children studied — those forced to flee their homes because of the August 2005 storm — have since been diagnosed with mental health problems. These are children who moved to trailer parks and other emergency housing.
Nearly half of families studied still report household instability, researchers said.
“If children are bellwethers of recovery, then the social systems supporting affected Gulf Coast populations are still far from having recovered from Hurricane Katrina,” the researchers said.
The study was published online Monday in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.
Lead author David Abramson of Columbia University said researchers were astonished by the level of distress.
Children are “a bit of canary in a coal mine in that they really represent a failure or a dysfunction of many, many other systems in the community,” said Abramson, who is with Columbia’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.
About 500,000 people, including more than 160,000 children, weren’t able to return to their homes for at least three months after the storm hit on Aug. 29, 2005.