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Magnitude of mental health issues created by Dorian still unclear

There aren’t enough available professionals to adequately deal with storm victims on Abaco suffering psychological issues, according to the Ministry of Health’s latest Hurricane Dorian Response update.

“The magnitude of the mental health issues requires even more attention,” Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said.

“We continue to ramp up the support.”

Sands said it is still too early to quantify how many people need help for psychological issues.

“We have to respond to situations on the ground,” he said.

“We have to act on information as we get it.

“So, if there’s a perception on the ground that we have a problem with mental health, then we’re going to continue to ramp up our mental health capacity by engaging additional providers, additional NGOs and so on and so forth.”

Sands added that this will continue until the perception of the gap is eliminated.

“Was it 28 cases or 42 cases? I don’t know the answer to that,” Sands said.

“Anyone that says they do know the answer or that the answer can be provided, they’re lying to you, but we still have to respond on the basis of the general perception of the clinicians.”

In November 2019, health officials expressed concerns that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression could be affecting a large number of hurricane victims on Abaco and Grand Bahama.

However, the ministry’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Focal Person Dr. Wendy Fernander later said that there had been no increase in the number of PTSD cases in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

The report said trained psychiatric nurses have been rotating on Abaco, but no reports have been given regarding their progress.

“We’re going to act on it, and when we’re happy that we have closed the gap, that will be reflected in the report,” Sands said.

The Category 5 storm barreled through large portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September 2019, leaving many residents without homes, businesses and family members.

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