Mental Health Crisis Looms in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

Credit: “PTSD Nation” by is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Although Hurricane Ida has passed, the uncertainty of the future remains. As life returns to normal for some, others are struggling with a new routine, lack of sleep and long days sometimes spent with no electricity and nothing else to do but wait. People who evacuated for the storm are living in a kind of limbo, ready to return home and begin the repair or rebuilding process but unable to do so until conditions improve.

In times like these, it’s understandable that one’s mental health is what suffers. Stress and lack of sleep affect the body in many ways, especially when one is worrying about their home, work, or expenses. Additionally, some might feel guilty for feeling this way, especially if their home suffered minimal damage and they believe they shouldn’t be stressed over “minor inconveniences.”

One person, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “I’m not okay right now. I don’t think anyone in Southeast Louisiana is. I am stressed out, not eating, losing weight, and worried about everything. I know I’m not alone; I’ve had friends say they aren’t even coming back to Louisiana because living here is too mentally exhausting.”

Scrolling through Twitter, you can see many others saying the same thing. People worrying about their homes, when their power will be restored, and their jobs. The heat certainly doesn’t help, neither does stress about food and gas lines.

It’s important to realize that these feelings are normal. Going through a Category 4 hurricane is a traumatic experience, and the uncertainty of day-to-day life, post-storm, is sure to take a toll.

Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Katrina, a date that is emblazoned in the DNA of anyone who was living in New Orleans at the time.

According to, a 2006 University of Michigan study found that within a year of a natural disaster, as many as 30-40% of adults directly affected by the event suffer from PTSD. Those who went through Hurricane Katrina could have PTSD symptoms due to Hurricane Ida.

Charles Figley, a professor and longtime psychology and traumatology researcher at Tulane University, said that the mental health repercussions resounded for years. Because Ida was bigger, it could have long-term effects on the survivors’ mental health.

If you are dealing with stress due to Hurricane Ida, Louisiana Healthcare Connections launched a 24-hour, toll-free crisis hotline for those impacted by the storm. You can speak with a licensed clinician, by calling 1-866-595-8133 and following the first prompt.

“This line is staffed by licensed mental health professionals who provide counseling as well as referrals to other local resources,” a statement from the company said. “This service is free to the public; you do not have to be a member of Louisiana Healthcare Connections to call.”

You can also call the Keep Calm Line at 1-866-310-7977 and the Behavioral Health Recovery Outreach Line at 1-833-333-1132. Both lines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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