After Hurricane Dorian, an emphasis on mental health in the Bahamas

Devastation and rubble nearly two weeks after Hurricane Dorian swept through the Bahamas. Families are struggling and that includes children who are left homeless.

As supplies are rushed to devastated islands in the Bahamas and families are left searching for places to sleep, there is a big question on the minds of some still living amid the aftermath.

WINK News met Dr. Elvis Burrows in Freeport when he picked up cases of water and food for people at his church. His daughter started crying as her dad described the damage from Dorian.

“A lot of them are confused,” Dr. Burrows said. “Because some of them had to spend entire nights in ceilings on jet skis trying to get out from their homes. Some of them had to just ride it out in extremely dangerous situations. And they’re traumatized.”

Dr. Abbe Finn, the clinical mental health program director at Florida Gulf Coast University, said this kind of event would impact the victims in many ways. Dr. Finn responded to traumatic natural disasters, like Haiti’s deadly earthquake in 2010.

“First you have to stabilize their living conditions because they’re not going to be concerned about how they’re feeling if they don’t have freshwater,” Dr. Finn said. “If they don’t have shelter. If they don’t have food.”

Dr. Finn said security for these families is critical, especially in making sure the children can process what happened. Some of that will take years to heal and move forward.

“Mental health and health are together,” Dr. Finn said. “Until you can meet with those needs, it’s going to be difficult to deal with the other issues.”

Dr. Finn said it is up to those organizations on the ground to not only help those families get necessary supplies but to talk to the people about what they are going through. For many, this may be the lowest moment in their life.

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
Writer:Michael Mora
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