Making a mental recovery – Coast residents still face stress



Ten months after Katrina, her world is still spinning.

Time elapsed since the Aug. 29 storm that devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast has done less to heal wounds than it has to force victims to accept the permanency of disaster – all as new hurricanes threaten to rise and strike again.

Coastal residents still are showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, agitation, nightmares and weight loss.

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Nurses in free clinics and mental-health workers who have been treating residents on the Mississippi Gulf Coast said those fears are common because people are living in cramped mobile units, and their children are free for the summer without the safety nets that school provided. Some parents are still reeling from guilt, having subjected their children to riding out the storm.

James Yancey, executive director of the Jackson County Children’s Coalition, said young children are resilient, but parents have to be prepared with straight-forward answers for the questions they will get – such as: ” ‘Is it going to happen again? Will it be worse? Where’s a safe place to go? Will I lose all my toys again? … It’s OK for a parent to say, ‘I’m scared, too,’ ” Yancey said.

MORE: Making a mental recovery – The Clarion-Ledger

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