Earthquakes like the recent one in Haiti and hurricanes like Katrina remind us of the devastating effects of environmental disasters. Living with the traumatic reality of being surrounded by many deaths, experiencing tremendous personal loss, and suffering physical injuries take a tremendous toll mentally on survivors. While physical needs receive more immediate attention, mental health intervention issues must also be addressed.
Research from the University of South Florida on mental health services in nursing homes after hurricanes provides helpful information about how residents should be treated after disasters. Representing two-thirds of Florida's counties, a questionnaire was administered to 258 directors of nursing, administrators, and owners of nursing homes. Residents stated their mental health needs and service use. In addition, focus group meetings with 22 nursing home administrators evaluated residents' use of services.