Church Attendee Help Seeking Priorities After Hurricane Katrina In Mississippi and Louisiana: A Brief Report

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After a disaster, survivors find themselves seeking many types of help from others in their communities. The purpose of this exploratory study was to assist in mental health service planning by determining the type and priority of support services sought by church attendees after Hurricane Katrina. Surveys were given to church attendees from two Mississippi coast and four New Orleans area churches that were directly affected by Hurricane Katrina participants were asked to review a list of 12 potential sources of help and were asked to rank the items chronologically from whom they had sought help first after Hurricane Katrina. Overall, participants sought out assistance from informal social networks such as family and friends first, followed by governmental and clergy support. This study also showed there may be differences in help-seeking behaviors between church attendees in more urban areas versus church attendees in more rural areas. Moreover, findings highlighted that very few church attendees seek out mental health services during the initial impact phase of a disaster. Since timely engagement with mental health services is important for resolving trauma, strategies that link professional mental health services with clergy and government resources following a disaster could improve the engagement with mental health professionals and improve mental health outcomes. Disaster mental health clinical implications and recommendations are offered for psychologists based on these findings. © 2012 Chevron Publishing.

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International Journal of Emergency Mental Health





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