Despite substantial investment in post-disaster mental health, unmet counseling and service needs remain and more targeted outreach efforts are needed, according to a new study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) Dean Sandro Galea.
Dr. Galea and colleagues surveyed 500 adults living in New York City neighborhoods that were the most severely affected by Hurricane Sandy, which hit the area in October 2012, causing $50 billion in damages and 43 deaths. About 8 percent of those surveyed reported having mental health needs—but fewer than half of them used services.
Predictors of those with unmet needs included younger age, higher education, male gender, and exposure to more disaster-related stressors, the study found. The authors suggest that efforts to reduce these unmet needs “could focus on reaching survivors with these characteristics.”
The study also found that some disaster survivors, albeit a small percentage of them, were receiving mental health services “without feeling a need for them.” Depression was identified as a factor that was predictive of service use in the absence of need. Taken together, the authors said, the findings call for additional efforts “to reach survivors most in need of services.”
To read more about the study, go to: http://www.bu.edu/sph/2015/10/13/mental-health-needs-unmet-in-aftermath-of-hurricane-sandy/