Oil Spill Stress Tops That of Katrina

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 3 (UPI) — About 30 percent of people in coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama say they suffer psychological distress from the oil spill, a study found.

Dr. Joseph E. Bisordi, chief medical officer of the Ochsner Health System, says the percentage of Louisiana coastal respondents afflicted with serious mental illness is double what it was among south Louisiana residents in July 2007 — two years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the state.

The survey, which measures mental health impacts after the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast April 20, finds 30 percent suffer from probable serious or probable mild-moderate mental illness — using the K6 psychological distress scale — 18 percent in Louisiana, 12 percent in Mississippi, 14 percent in Florida and 10 percent in Alabama.

“To see so many people mired in psychological misery and in worse shape than they were after Katrina is disheartening,” Bisordi says in a statement. “This benchmark identifies the need for mental health services throughout the region.”

Thirty-two percent of those making less than $25,000 annually are classified as having probable serious mental illness, while 2 percent of those making more than $100,000 having probable serious mental illness, the survey indicates.

The telephone survey of 406 U.S. adults age 21 and older was conducted by Market Dynamics Research Group June 25 to July 1. No further survey details were provided.

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