chronic illness, mental health problems go unchecked
Already displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, thousands of families in FEMA-subsidized temporary housing in Louisiana are facing a second crisis, according to a new study issued today by Columbia Universitys Mailman School of Public Health and The Childrens Health Fund. The study found this displaced group is suffering from a host of serious medical and mental health problems, but receiving little or no treatment. An accompanying analysis has called for immediate action from Congress to respond to this looming health crisis.
The study found that children are suffering from high rates of chronic health conditions and poor access to care. Mental health was also identified as a significant issue for both parents and children, complicated by the fact that the displaced have lost stability, income, and security. And the safety nets designed to protect the welfare of children and families were found to have major gaps.
The study concluded that failing to provide stable health and mental health care will likely have long-term consequences. For example, a parents untreated depression increases the risk of mental health problems in their children, who in this case are already psychologically vulnerable. The analysis from Operation Assist has recommended a review of disaster preparedness planning for both mid-term and long-term recovery efforts to reconstitute medical care and mental health systems and providing for continuity of care. Additional planning should address the ability of schools to reach out and engage students and their families in emergency and transitional housing settings.
Randee Sacks Levine | EurekAlert!
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