By Danielle Thomas – bio
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mental health experts say for some people, the
crisis in the Gulf could dredge up unresolved feelings from Hurricane
Katrina. The emotional fallout from the oil spill was one of the topics
discussed at the Community Wellness Conference in Biloxi Wednesday.
A coalition born out of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is now preparing
to deal with the emotional toll of the BP oil crisis. Officials with
REACH NOLA say coping with the latest disaster may be more difficult for
"The hurricane itself and the flood waters that came in was a short
term occurrence that we can pick up the pieces afterward," said Benjamin
Springgate of REACH NOLA. "With the oil spill, the duration of it is
something that we're still not clear on how long it is going to take."
Mental health professionals met in Biloxi to discuss what they say is
rising anxiety levels along the Gulf Coast. They are especially
concerned about the fishermen and tourism workers whose way of life is
"This will affect them emotionally in a long term way," said John
Hosey of the Interfaith Disaster Task Force. "You might see domestic
violence increase. You might see suicide increase, drug and alcohol
increase. So what we're trying to do is get ahead and be prepared as a
collaborative network of people with some of these issues."
Mental health professionals say people who feel overwhelmed by stress
need to have a support system.
Springgate said, "If it's a person who goes to church and continuing
to be active in church. If it's a person who is involved in their
neighborhood association, then continuing to be active in that. Staying
in touch with your family members and your friends and not allowing
yourself to be isolated."
"Communicating a message of 'Hey look a lot of people if not all of
us at times go through depression. Go through some sort of traumatic
experience," said Charles Allen, of REACH NOLA. "It's not uncommon. What
is common and thankfully what is helpful is that there's help."
On Thursday, a speaker familiar with the Exxon Valdez oil spill back
in 1989 will discuss the emotional effects that followed that disaster.
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