Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Schools Not Sustaining Mental Health Aid to Children Displaced by Hurricane Katrina

22.10.2007
Despite strong initial efforts to support the mental health needs of students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many schools have not been able to fulfill students' mental health needs over the long term, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

“Mental health responses were good during the early part of the crisis, but most schools were not able to sustain their efforts,” said Lisa H. Jaycox, the study's lead author and a psychologist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Schools need to respond not only in the weeks following a disaster, but for the months and years afterward when lingering mental health problems start showing up.”

Researchers from RAND Health found that schools in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas were quick to implement a comprehensive approach to assisting students immediately after the storms, enrolling displaced students, getting them books and uniforms, and providing other services, such as one-on-one counseling.

However, within six months of the storms, some schools determined there was no need for those additional services and returned to an emphasis on academics. Other schools felt there was a need for additional mental health services, but either did not have the funding or the properly trained staff, according to the study published in the October issue of Psychiatric Services.

Some schools were able to extend additional services to displaced students, but most schools reported facing barriers that kept them from continuing special services. Among the barriers cited were:

Problems communicating with parents. Many families were living in government-provided trailers, with no phone service or reliable transportation routes.
Administrative pressure to “get back to normal” and focus on academics, particularly with mandatory testing required by federal education laws.

Inadequate resources and insufficient staff training. Schools in larger cities tended to have the strongest mental health systems in place before the storms, but needed them to tend to the needs of their pre-existing students. Smaller, rural communities were less likely to have staff members trained to screen and assist troubled students.

Burnout among staff in charge of implementing and running the programs, because many staff members also were affected by the hurricanes. Difficulties balancing the needs of displaced students with the continuing needs of pre-existing students.

More than 196,000 students from kindergarten through grade 12 were displaced in Louisiana alone after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005. Students in Mississippi and Alabama also were affected by Hurricane Katrina, and students in Texas and Louisiana were affected when Hurricane Rita hit the coast in September 2005. Some reports found that nearly one-third of New Orleans children had elevated symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Jaycox and her colleagues interviewed mental health professionals at 19 public and 11 private or parochial schools or school systems in Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and Mississippi in the spring of 2006 and again in the fall/winter of 2006. These schools had taken in large numbers of displaced students, increasing their populations by more than 10 percent.

“A lot of these children lived in inner city New Orleans and faced stress caused by poverty even before the storms hit,” Jaycox said.

Students with PTSD or anxiety might appear to be fine and might show up for school every day, but still struggle, Jaycox said. Many have nightmares, are hyper vigilant, easily startled, irritable, depressed or want to avoid things that remind them of the trauma, which can include the loss of family members, pets and their homes. These conditions can interfere with their ability to learn and form social relationships.

The study recommends that schools develop crisis plans that specify the roles, training and resources required to address longer-term mental health consequences following a disaster, not just for students, but also for staff members and their families.

Jaycox said the most effective mental health services for students after a crisis like Hurricane Katrina — cognitive-behavioral techniques that teach students how to develop coping and problem-solving skills to reduce anxiety and depression — also can be applied to other kinds of traumatic events such as earthquakes and shootings.

“Education is the primary mission of schools, but schools also serve as a community hub in a disaster, doing everything from providing shelter to mental health services,” Jaycox said. “Few people are able to access specialty mental health care. If they can get care in a community setting like a school, then many more can be served.”

Other authors of the study are Terri L. Tanielian, Priya Sharma, Lindsey Morse, and Bradley Stein, all of RAND, and Gretchen Clum with the Department of Community Health Sciences at Tulane University.

The research was conducted within RAND Health, under the auspices of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute. RAND Health, a division of RAND, is the nation's largest independent health policy research program, with a broad research portfolio that focuses on health care quality, costs and delivery, among other topics.

The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute is helping government and the nonprofit and private sectors to develop a long-term vision and strategies for building a better future for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The goal of RGSPI is to assist in long-term recovery efforts by providing evidence-based policy research and guidance to speed regional recovery and growth.

The study was funded by RAND's continuing program of self-initiated research, which is supported in part by donors and the independent research and development provisions of RAND's contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers.

Lisa Sodders | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rand.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>