Schools Not Sustaining Mental Health Aid to Children Displaced by Hurricane Katrina
Oct 18, 2007
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In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita displaced hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. Gulf Coast region and exposed many more to stressful events, such as injury, homelessness, and the loss of loved ones. Schools in the region played a role in helping students cope with this trauma by providing mental health services. This study examined how schools in the Gulf region perceived the mental health needs of students after the hurricanes and how schools responded. RAND researchers interviewed school personnel in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Arkansas. The following were among the key findings:
School experiences with the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita underscore the need for better planning and training to respond to the mental health dimension of natural disasters. Despite significant efforts to meet the mental health needs of students affected by the hurricanes, many schools were limited in their ability to implement disaster-focused programs. The study suggests that districts and schools would benefit from extending crisis plans to include precrisis training in mental health programs for students and for staff who have ongoing difficulties after a disaster.
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