Mental Health Services in Louisiana School-Based Health Centers Post-Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana school-based health centers (SBHCs) were called on to respond to a sharp increase in mental health needs, especially for displaced students coping with grief, loss, trauma, and uncertainty. To assess the impact of the hurricanes on the students and the needs of SBHC mental health providers (MHPs), we surveyed MHPs in each of the SBHCs under the auspices of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health. SBHC practitioners from around the state reported that mental health service utilization rose during the 2005–2006 school year, but utilization of services increased most significantly in schools receiving the majority of displaced students. Anxiety and adjustment problems were noted as increasing the most following the hurricanes. A multitude of other conditions was also reported. By the time of this survey in April 2006, the reported prevalence of most symptoms had declined, but all remained above their pre-hurricane levels. Selfreported needs of SBHC MHPs are also discussed in light of the major natural disasters.

Disaster Recovery
Vulnerable Populations
Children & Disasters
Mental Health