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Thread: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

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    Default Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    By Matthew Bigg
    Sun Jul 11, 2010

    VENICE Louisiana (Reuters) - Gulf Coast native Kindra Arnesen is so anxious about the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill she is packing up her family and leaving town.
    "Stress? Dude my clothes are falling off me (because of weight loss). The level of stress here is tremendous. My husband has aged 10 years in two months," Arnesen said on Friday as she loaded possessions into a van outside her trailer home in Venice.
    Fears are growing of an increase in stress-related illness and mental health problems from the BP Plc spill. Anecdotal evidence abounds but mental health officials say they lack data about the scale and scope of suffering.
    Arnesen recently set up the Wives of Commercial Fishermen network to respond to pressures in the community. Two days ago, a friend told her he was so upset about his failure to get hired by BP's cleanup program he was considering suicide.

    Arnesen has her own worries. Her husband cannot work as a shrimper because authorities have closed swathes of Gulf waters to fishing and her children and other relatives have fallen sick from what she believes are airborne toxins from the leak.
    "The mental health impact here ... (and) the level of uncertainty is taking a toll on people and that's a huge, huge concern," Arnesen said. She declined to say where she and her two children would settle but said her husband would stay behind to work for BP on the cleanup.
    Thousands of Gulf Coast fishermen face financial ruin because of the spill. Some say the stress is worse than after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.
    Then it was possible to get back to work despite the destruction. Now it is impossible to say when waters will reopen especially since oil continues to gush into the Gulf.
    At the same time, many fishermen now rely on BP's cleanup program as a financial lifeline and while that has provided a windfall for a few, others have yet to find employment.

    FINANCIAL STRAIN
    "We hear it over and over again," said environmental scientist Wilma Subra of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, a nonprofit group with deep community roots. "It is the stress because of the possibility of not being able to earn a living and pay their bills."
    Some experts caution it is possible to falsely perceive an uptick in a health phenomenon just by looking for it. But crisis counseling teams working with Gulf fishermen say anecdotal reports point to increased anger and anxiety and "a lot of marital discord," said Acquanetta Knight, director of policy and planning at the Alabama Department of Mental Health.

    Data on the problems should be available in the next two weeks, she told reporters on Friday.
    Residents suffering mental distress may hesitate to seek help because of a fiercely individualistic culture and strong ethic of self-reliance on the Gulf, where many earn their living working long hours alone on the water.
    "This is sometimes a population that's not so accustomed to utilizing traditional services," said Pamela Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
    Hyde said her agency, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is looking at national suicide and domestic violence hotlines and state mental health agency reports to find data.
    Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi state mental health agencies have requested millions of dollars from BP to help pay for expanded mental health monitoring and services.
    In a June 28 letter to the energy company, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals asked for $10 million and warned that health effects from the spill will be an "ongoing challenge."
    The department first requested funds for mental health care on May 28. BP has not yet responded to the request.
    (Additional reporting by Emma Ashburn in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott)

    http://tinyurl.com/33qx6l7

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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    By George! Arid-zonians are leaving their state in droves, and now Louisianans (?) are emigrating too. Where are we going to put all these migrants? Pls don't send them here — the only jobs Maine has left are in tourism...and these are not the tourists we had in mind!

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    EmmaPeel
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    This enrages me.

    We will never be able to even mildly know what it is like to have to pack up and leave a way of life, a family, a home because of a disaster that could have been avoided. This reminds me of the stories I hear about the Great War which I can never begin to imagine what life must have been like. Devastation and trauma that went on for decades...the ramifications of the original 'event' changing lives for generations...and not just the lives of humans, but the ecosystem over a wide swath of a corner of the world.

    And that is no exaggeration.

    My heart goes out to the families who are in trouble. I grieve for the wildlife. This event will set the precedent for all future regulations...we hope. We can only hope that this is The Great Turning Point....

    ...and if they need a place to come to...Canada is a big place.

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    Veteran Member Reesacat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    Just looking at some of the pictures makes me ill-I can't even imagine what the smell and loss of wildlife would feel like.
    So far they haven't been able to fix it-so the people are just watching it get worse and worse.
    I can't even imagine what they are going through.
    My prayers are with all.

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    Senior Member Grandma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaPeel
    This enrages me.

    We will never be able to even mildly know what it is like to have to pack up and leave a way of life, a family, a home because of a disaster that could have been avoided. This reminds me of the stories I hear about the Great War which I can never begin to imagine what life must have been like. Devastation and trauma that went on for decades...the ramifications of the original 'event' changing lives for generations...and not just the lives of humans, but the ecosystem over a wide swath of a corner of the world.

    And that is no exaggeration.

    My heart goes out to the families who are in trouble. I grieve for the wildlife. This event will set the precedent for all future regulations...we hope. We can only hope that this is The Great Turning Point....

    ...and if they need a place to come to...Canada is a big place.

    I agree with what you said Emma.... I have been lucky to live where there has been no devastation or trauma. I feel for those people and the wildlife.

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    Veteran Member Maurya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    Reesacat, do you have Marcellus shale where you live? In Pennsylvania, this is big news, as they are extracting natural gas from these areas. The rivers all will be flammable soon, and no water fit to drink. I had been thinking that the natural underlying rock strata was running through your area, as well, but really have no grasp on the magnitude of this problem. Another area to keep an eye on, for total environmental devastation would be the Athabasca in Alberta, near Saskatchewan. Many miles of moon-scape.

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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    The devastation, the upheaval, the loss of a way of life, is beyond words. The speed with which we are exploiting the planet may well have taken us past the tipping point. There is no Planet B....

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    Veteran Member mellowsong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    I'm from NW FL. Grew up in Ft. Walton Beach. I've only been gone 5 years. I cry when I see the pictures. I've had dolphins play with me in the water as a kid. I can't imagine what is happening there. Then, the economy there is already devastated due to the construction bust. About all that's left is tourism and seafood, both of which are now decimated. The cost of this tragedy goes far beyond money. I agree Islander...there is no Planet B!

  9. #9
    EmmaPeel
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    Quote Originally Posted by Maurya
    Reesacat, do you have Marcellus shale where you live? In Pennsylvania, this is big news, as they are extracting natural gas from these areas. The rivers all will be flammable soon, and no water fit to drink. I had been thinking that the natural underlying rock strata was running through your area, as well, but really have no grasp on the magnitude of this problem. Another area to keep an eye on, for total environmental devastation would be the Athabasca in Alberta, near Saskatchewan. Many miles of moon-scape.
    The tar sands I believe are a mess. Our regulatory bodies up here are no better, and a disaster in Alberta would destroy the most pristine and beautiful places in the world known as the Rockies. The smoke would black out the sky. They claim that land fires/spills are easier to cap...who knows. All I know is that there is enough petroleum down there to gush and burn for a 100years or more. Stupid dinosaurs...okay it's not their fault...

    I am cautiously optimistic about Manitoba's water supply. Our water supply comes from a Lake managed by a Reserve. We do have scads of it. Great to shower in, wouldn't drink it though...

    And, we still have huge algae blooms in Lake Manitoba every year due to the phosphates leaching into the lakes from the cottages. E. Coli is an issue because of the septic fields. I won't swim in that lake anymore.

    No Planet B indeed...makes you wonder what will be the point of some of these individuals who stock a bunker...? Would you wanna still be alive in that horrific mess???

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    Veteran Member Reesacat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    Quote Originally Posted by Maurya
    Reesacat, do you have Marcellus shale where you live? In Pennsylvania, this is big news, as they are extracting natural gas from these areas. The rivers all will be flammable soon, and no water fit to drink. I had been thinking that the natural underlying rock strata was running through your area, as well, but really have no grasp on the magnitude of this problem. Another area to keep an eye on, for total environmental devastation would be the Athabasca in Alberta, near Saskatchewan. Many miles of moon-scape.
    Not sure. We do have coal in WV and right now fighting to end strip mining.
    Just checked-it is in some counties, not mine.

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    Veteran Member Maurya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaPeel
    No Planet B indeed...makes you wonder what will be the point of some of these individuals who stock a bunker...? Would you wanna still be alive in that horrific mess???
    This reminds me of the "bomb shelters" that were popular among some people during the 1950s, due to fear of nuclear annihilation. When I, as a child, inquired about these, for once there was a really good answer. Something like "Would you want to go into a bomb shelter and force the Peterson family to stay outside to their death? What sort of a world would be waiting, when eventually we came back outside again?" So no bomb shelter for us. The philosophy behind this has stayed with me to this day.

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    Veteran Member Reesacat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mental health a growing concern after Gulf spill

    Quote Originally Posted by Maurya
    This reminds me of the "bomb shelters" that were popular among some people during the 1950s, due to fear of nuclear annihilation. When I, as a child, inquired about these, for once there was a really good answer. Something like "Would you want to go into a bomb shelter and force the Peterson family to stay outside to their death? What sort of a world would be waiting, when eventually we came back outside again?" So no bomb shelter for us. The philosophy behind this has stayed with me to this day.
    I like that!

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