I just hung up the phone with my friend Simone, who is busting her hump helping charitable organizations devoted to several causes, and one of those nearest and dearest to her is in New Orleans. The St. Bernard Project works predominantly in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and Orleans parishes, and has been responsible for building more homes for Katrina survivors than any other local, national, or international organization. In addition to being devoted to meeting the demand of those still trying to reclaim their lives from a disaster that happened years ago, the ST Bernard Project also focuses on a very important but little talked of side of the community work in regards to the Gulf Oil Spill.
The mental health of residents of the Gulf region is being attentively addressed by St. Bernard Project. They have a mental health center to address all sorts of issues. More than a quarter of residents of New Orleans and the region are estimated to have suffered/still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after Hurricane Katrina, and the uncertainty about the magnitude of the oils spill disaster, combined with loss of livelihood and work, is expected to cause similar PTSD issues. Michelle Many, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Professor in LSU’s Department of Psychiatry, says that, “The recent oil spill has already brought a blow to the prolonged recovery from Katrina, and LSU clinicians report that residents are suffering from re-traumatization.” Shrimpers and fishermen who are predominantly self-employed and without medical insurance, cannot seek service from most mental health providers in the community–except St Bernard Project.
We know about going down to New Orleans (a thing I feel lucky and blessed to do whenever I can) and the larger Gulf region to help with beach cleanup and rehab, help clean oil from sea birds like in the dish detergent commercials, and also just go there on vacation and spend our tourist dollars in a region that is suffering from the absence of visitors…but the gentle care of the emotional health of the amazing people who have been twice-struck by enormous tragedy is truly worth your support.