Hurricane Season on Mental Health

10.7.19 – Severe Weather, Specifically Hurricanes, Affecting Mental Health in Children

I recently had the honor of being on a panel, discussing mental health after severe weather. The discussion centered around children post hurricane, analyzing Michael in the Florida Pan Handle. Other members of the panel included Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, UF Health Pediatric Psychiatrist Dr. Mariam Rhamani, and Meteorologist Katie Nguyen from U.S. National Weather Service (NWS). The panel was live streamed via Facebook across the state of Florida, gathering 4.7k + viewers.

I was asked to be a part of this panel after participating in a storytelling unit last spring with a group of fellow WUFT journalists. Journeying into Hurricane Michael’s destructive path, we looked beyond the visible physical damage. A topic often forgotten or even stigmatized, mental health is affected incredibly from a hurricane, especially in the case of a category 5 storm. Talking to families and locals in the area, we created a short series around the actual mental effects in children and the family unit dynamic: Invisible Aftermath.

Returning six months later and now a year, the recovery efforts are tremendous, but there is still an enormous amount of work to be done. It is easy to forget the struggle these people deal with daily, once the immediate local reporting goes away; however, Rebuild 850 is working to continue collecting donations and gathering volunteers. As we reflect on the one year anniversary this week, we need to continue having an open discussion and bringing the awareness these communities need.