Background: Mental health issues are a significant concern after disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This study was designed to assess the mental health effects on residents of areas of southeastern Louisiana affected by the oil spill.
Methods: Telephone and face-to-face interviews were conducted with residents (N = 452) assessing concerns and direct impact.
Results: The results show that the greatest effect on mental health related to the extent of disruption to participants' lives, work, family, and social engagement, with increased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress. Given the location of the oil spill affecting communities that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina, results also revealed that losses from Hurricane Katrina were highly associated with negative mental health outcomes. Conversely, the ability to rebound after adversity and place satisfaction were highly associated with better mental health outcomes.
Conclusions: Enhanced understanding of mental health effects after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will help in determining directions for much-needed mental health services after the disaster and in contributing to the knowledge of complex traumatization and the ability to rebound after adversity.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:280–286)