Prevalence of and Disparities in Serious Mental Illness Among Displaced New Orleans Residents

Narayan Sastry, University of Michigan

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Louisiana, on the morning of August 29, 2005. The devastation, disruption, and despair caused by the hurricane was expected to have a significant effect on serious mental illness among the population, and results to date suggest that this is indeed the case. This paper extends previous research on this topic by examining disparities in serious mental illness among pre-Katrina New Orleans residents. We examine differences in prevalence of serious mental illness by race and ethnicity, education, and socioeconomic status and the individual, family, and contextual factors underlying these differences. We also examine disparities by the extent of damage to the individual’s home in New Orleans, their evacuation experience, and place of residence one-year after the hurricane. Finally, we place our results in context by comparing our estimated prevalence rates of serious mental illness among this population with rates based on national data.

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Presented in Session 114: Mental Health Consequences of Hurricane Katrina on Affected Populations