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Ministry fears gaps in psychological support for Hurricane Dorian victims

With 60 percent of patients needing anti-depressants following Hurricane Dorian, a recent Situation Overview from the Ministry of Health indicated that there are gaps in psychological support service (PSS) provision on Abaco and Grand Bahama.

The report, dated November 22, noted that non-profit disaster relief and global health organization AmeriCares continues to support PSS on both islands, but components of that support are expected to cease at the end of this month on Abaco and in December on Grand Bahama.

“An urgent discussion is required with AmeriCares to ascertain their service coverage and to determine the sustainable model going forward,” the report said.

“This will hopefully occur during the week of the 25 November.”

The report said that the ministry also intends to have a meeting with The Center for Mind-Body Medicine this week to discuss the way forward in supporting community level PSS services.

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said that the ministry does not anticipate any reduction in care, as it is simply transitioning.

Last month, health officials expressed concern of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression affecting a large number of Hurricane Dorian victims from both storm-ravaged islands.

At the time, Sands said that this is a “massive problem” that gives rise to the possibility of increased suicides among victims and even some first responders.

In light of this, he also said that the government has to continue ramping up mental health support.

Hurricane Dorian barreled through Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September, leaving at least 69 dead. At least 200 remain missing.

Many survivors have shared that they have lost limbs, homes, businesses, witnessed death, or had a near-death experience.

During a mental health conference last month, Sands also said that this storm’s experience is enough to make grown people cry, as he urged individuals to pay attention to the psychological impact of a storm of this magnitude.

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