Meeting Mental Health Needs Following a Natural Disaster: Lessons From Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina had a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of Louisiana and Mississippi families. Housing was destroyed, jobs were lost, and family members were separated, sometimes in different states and without communication. Postdisaster stress reactions were common, with vulnerable individuals most affected. Mental health services were not adequate to meet immediate needs, and postdisaster mental health issues often emerge over time. This article describes the mental health needs of dislocated and evacuee children and families and the steps that were taken to develop mental health programs that would be sustainable over time to meet this new level of need.