Just Because They're Ignored, Doesn't Mean Katrina's Mental Health Woes Will Disappear
> 11/9/2006 1:41:21 PM

We've been writing about the mental health problems facing the areas devasted by Hurricane Katrina since they've become an issue. And although there has been a steady stream of stories, like today's AP piece, that chronicle the struggles with depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress and suicide, it continues to be business as usual.

Today's headline, Mental Health Problems from Katrina Persist sounds eerily similar to many stories that have covered Katrina in the year since the disaster.The only question that can possibly be asked at this point is how can this still be a story? If this news was being reported more than a year ago, if we knew of the short-comings and inadequacies, if the suffering had been documented, why do we still have to see headlines like Mental Health Problems from Katrina Persist?

There was no shortage of outrage in the weeks and months after the storm for the horribly slow and inept response, but the trouble is that the response to Katrina devastation clearly remains slow and inept. As many headlines across the country have let us know, the scars from Katrina are not only on the surface, but they are also buried deep within the men, women and children who witnessed the destruction.

The mental health problems that have become a regular part of these citizens' days--depression, anxiety disorders, stress disorders, addiction--are chronic problems. They are problems that can be incredibly devastating on a personal level and also at a societal level. By focusing on treatment and managed care, we can ease some of the pain, and we can help the area become prosperous again. But all of that requires first that greater efforts are made. There are funds, and there are doctors and therapists on the ground, and these efforts are comendable. Real progress, though, will take federal money and attention. Before long, we can only hope that we'll be reading headlines that look less like those above and more like this:

After Rough Times, Mental Health Relief Begins to Erase Katrina's Cloud

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