op-ed: post- hurricane katrina and the present state of mental health care in new orleans

August 22, 2016

We continue to talk about hurricane Katrina but not the mental health care many still don’t receive post- Katrina.

August 23, 2016 will make eleven years since hurricane Katrina formed. It hit New Orleans, Louisiana august 29th, 2005. Around this time of year something I’ve always noticed is many natives of the city get very touchy and aggravated. The fact news stations and social media continue to replay the horror of the aftermath Katrina left angers and devastates many people here. They’re tired of seeing pictures of the city under water and dead floating bodies.

By Jasmin Pierre, AFROPUNK contributor

They’re tired of seeing the footage of the superdome where many had to take refuge for weeks. Most of all they’re just tired of talking about the storm. It messes with many natives mentally. Alot of untreated cases of depression and PTSD occur in New Orleans post- Katrina. The aftermath of the storm left in people’s minds are very serious even eleven years later.

Many budget cuts have been made in the mental health care system by governor Bobby Jindal. The mental health care we do have left in the city can be very expensive at times. Many minorities here in New Orleans cannot afford the mental health care they need. Even though all different races do suffer from post katrina mental illness the New Orleans population is about 60 percent black.

My question is why are people continuing to ignore this? Why keep broadcasting a city’s tragedy year after year but NOT properly help the people who were affected by this tragedy? The people of New Orleans grow tired of the media making them relive a nightmare year after year and not caring about their mental health in the same breath.

I’ve talked to a news station here before. I went down to fox 8 news New Orleans last year because of the advocating I do. I wanted to address mental health issues. After emailing them and they lied to me about a possible interview I decided to go over and talk to them in person. You want to know what happened? They didn’t really give a damn.

The only time they really address the issues in detail are when someone in New Orleans has already committed suicide or have a mental health meltdown. The only time they really want to highlight the issues are when it’s TOO LATE.

Every year during the katrina anniversary the city tries to scurry up a few extra mental health services. Only for a couple of days for the people who are suffering like that’s going to be enough. Majority of the news coverage is about what happened during the storm but not what’s going to help people still suffering in the long run.

When the governor and the local news really don’t care much about the mental well being of the New Orleans what’s left to do? Something has to change. I wish they would stop talking so much about the storm itself and actually help the people with post- katrina mental illness recover!

A fed up New Orleans Native

Pictured: Michael Appleton

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 *Jasmin Pierre is a 27-year-old mental health activist and author of the new self help book “A Fight Worth Finishing”. She is from New Orleans, Louisiana. Jasmin is constantly fighting for the rights of those suffering from major depressive disorder. She inspires to become a life coach and continue writing to encourage others to never give up.