Oil spill still impacting mental health - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil spill still impacting mental health


The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and set off a massive gusher of oil into the Gulf came at an especially tough time for coast residents.

"We surveyed almost 1,000 people and this oil spill had some impact on almost everyone without exception, either exclusively or as a combination with Katrina and the economy," Gulf Coast Mental Health Center Director Jeff Bennett said.

Bennett said the $3 million they got from BP to use over two years, kept them afloat during a busy time allowing them to better serve those who couldn't afford to pay for services.

"They're not employed; they have no insurance, little income, haven't been paid by BP, and they come in here out of frustration, depression, anxiety or whatever it is, with no way to pay," Bennett said.

One area they saw a noticeable increase was in domestic problems. Bennett said people lost jobs and were moving in with family members because they couldn't pay their rent.

"A day or two of that is okay, but weeks and weeks can create domestic problems," Bennett said. "And we saw quite a bit of that."

There was also an increase in substance abuse with people self medicating using drugs and alcohol to help them cope with the disaster.

"People in the seafood industry are historically macho types and don't seek mental health services; they take care of it themselves."

Despite the need for more mental health care after the spill Bennett said the coast showed its resilience once again.

"A word used throughout Katrina and the oil spill is resilience," Bennett said. "We are a resilient lot and somehow we figure out how to make the best of a bad situation."

But he said the struggle continues a year later.

"One of the factors that leads to mental health upset is uncertainty, and that's what you have with an oil spill. We don't know yet what the environmental impact will be completely."

Bennett said that uncertainty will continue to keep people concerned and somewhat on edge for some time to come.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • Read MoreMore>>

  • MDEQ director: Perception still a problem with oil spill

    MDEQ director: Perception still a problem with oil spill

    Tuesday, April 19 2011 3:02 PM EDT2011-04-19 19:02:47 GMT
    Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Director Trudy Fisher is pleased with the overall response and clean-up of the oil spill along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She spoke with WLOX about the one year anniversary of the BP spill. The MDEQ has been at the forefront in the ongoing response efforts, which included taking water samples in the Mississippi Sound and monitoring the clean-up operations on the mainland beaches and barrier islands. "On the clean-up and response...More >>
    The director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says she's pleased with the response and clean-up of the oil on this week's one year anniversary of the BP oil spill. Trudy Fisher says the biggest challenge still remaining is perception.More >>
  • Cat Island clean-up crews making progress

    Cat Island clean-up crews making progress

    Monday, April 18 2011 6:47 PM EDT2011-04-18 22:47:34 GMT
    Monday, April 18 2011 9:29 PM EDT2011-04-19 01:29:30 GMT
    About two dozen clean-up workers spent the day Monday picking up small tar balls along the eastern shore of Cat Island. The contractor hired by BP to clean that barrier island has a command center set-up on a barge that's anchored along the north side of the island. On this week marking the one year anniversary of the oil spill, WLOX News accompanied DEQ representatives on a tour of Cat Island. As our boat approached from the north, it was easy to spot the beauty of this barrie...More >>
    Clean-up crews contracted by BP are making progress clearing the tar balls and waste oil from Cat Island. The oil giant recently purchased a portion of the island from private owners.More >>
  • Mississippi barrier islands still recovering from spill

    Mississippi barrier islands still recovering from spill

    Wednesday, April 20 2011 8:26 AM EDT2011-04-20 12:26:36 GMT
    Mississippi's barrier islands were among the areas most damaged by oil washing ashore from the BP disaster one year ago. The subsequent clean-up operation on the islands has removed nearly four million pounds of tar balls and oil patties. Much of that work was scaled-back last month so clean-up crews don't disturb nesting birds on the barrier islands. "People are ready to get out. Spring fever is here and they want to get back out to the islands," said Louis Skrmetta, whose...More >>
    Louis Skrmetta is hoping for a busy summer season for Ship Island Excursions. Opening day, the family ferry business took more than 500 visitors to the island. That's good news, since last year his business was down by about 60 percent because of the oil spill.More >>
Powered by Frankly