One-third Katrina Kids Need Mental Therapy

NEW YORK, Aug. 23 (UPI) — Five years after Hurricane Katrina, child support systems — parents, communities and schools — are not yet functioning properly, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health tracked more than 1,000 Gulf Coast families affected by Katrina.

The study, published in the Journal of Disaster Management and Public Health Preparedness, finds one-third of the children displaced families have been clinically diagnosed with at least one mental health problem since Katrina — behavioral and conduct disorders the most common.

However, fewer than 50 percent of parents seeking needed mental health treatment have accessed professional services, nearly half of the households were still living in unstable conditions and 60 percent of respondents still reported their situation was unstable or worse than before Katrina.

The study also finds:

– 45 percent of parents report their children are experiencing emotional or psychological problems.

– Children are 4.5 times more likely to have serious emotional disturbance than pre-Katrina.

– Nearly half of those displaced for more than a year by Katrina are still living in unstable conditions

“This study points to a major crisis facing the children of the post-Katrina gulf region,” Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the NCDP and president of the Children’s Health Fund, said in a statement. “From the perspective of the gulf’s most vulnerable children and families, the recovery from Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans has been a dismal failure.”

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