I am sure President Obama will add psychological care to BP’s bill now that more wackos are attributing the oil spill to mental illness. Maybe the Obama Administration should be footing the bill for all the out of work people in America who can’t find gainful employment due to his failed policies (the Editor)
The wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon rig may have stopped spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico — at least as of Thursday — but the mental health effects of the disaster will be felt for years, according to a leading behavioral scientist who examined the social fallout of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska two decades ago.
“The major issue that we may be addressing for years to come is not just the physical health effects of the oil spill, but the mental health impacts,” University of Southern California anthropologist Lawrence Palinkas told a group of health care and social service providers Thursday at Tulane University Medical School.
Just as in Alaska, the most vulnerable populations, Palinkas said, are children, cleanup workers and coastal natives who have seen both their economic well-being and cultural identities threatened by the spill. On the heels of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he added, the negative effects are intensified for everyone involved.
He cited depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and he noted their links with social problems such as domestic violence and abuse of alcohol or drugs, along with their contribution to physical maladies such as high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, ulcers, asthma and heart disease.
Palinkas compared lingering problems in coastal Alaska to the physical attributes of Prince William Sound and its surroundings: pristine at first blush, yet still bearing evidence of what was until this year the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
“If you look under the rocks in the Gulf of Alaska, you’ll still see oil,” Palinkas said. “One thing high-pressure hoses can’t eliminate is the psychological trauma.”
Those declarations came as no surprise to the representatives from universities, not-for-profit groups, churches, schools and clinical practices who came to discuss mental health services in the wake of disasters. Attendees offered anecdotal evidence of increased tension in personal relationships, more domestic violence and recurrences of the stress-related conditions that proliferated — and remain — from the 2005 hurricanes.
Howard Osofsky, Louisiana State University’s psychiatry chairman, said many LSU patients display “anger and anxiety … related to the lack of certainty and their lack of control.”