CHALMETTE, La (DHH) — The Department of Health and Hospitals is holding a Behavioral Health Summit to address the significant mental health and addictive disorder needs arising from the BP disaster and oil spill along the Louisiana coast. The summit comes on the heels of the release this week of a Gallup poll showing a 25 percent increase in depression among Gulf Coast residents since the disaster.
The event, which is being held this morning on Friday, Oct., 1 at the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center and Ballroom in Chalmette, is featuring local, state and national health experts and focusing on the response and recovery phases of the crisis.
The Behavioral Health Summit is a partnership between DHH and the many non-profit and local government agencies on the front lines of the communities impacted by the oil spill. They include Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, LSU Health Sciences Center – Department of Psychiatry, Florida Parishes Human Services Authority, Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority, Metropolitan Human Services District and South Central Louisiana Human Services Authority.
“We are grateful that so many partners have recognized the need to work together to avert further crisis among our communities – the crisis that comes from desperation and uncertainty after a disaster like we are still facing,” said DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. “We must be clear: Just because the leak has been sealed, there is still much recovery work to be done to give families their lives back. A critical component of that work is meeting their behavioral health needs during this time of continued turmoil.”
Highlights of the summit include:
• Panel Discussion about emotional stressors currently being experienced by those affected by the oil spill
• Discussion about best practice models for mental health and substance abuse interventions
• Cumulative trauma, post-Katrina and oil spill
• Socio-cultural acceptance of mental health and addiction services
• First responders and Peer mentoring
• Suicide prevention strategies for older adults
• Substance abuse intervention
Kathy Kliebert, assistant secretary for the Office of Behavioral Health said this summit is the first of what she hopes will be many events like it in the future.
“We expect that this summit will be the first in a series of behavioral health summits that help service providers give the best help to citizens affected by the oil spill right now and also those who may be impacted in the future,” Kliebert said. “Bringing this level of expertise together ensures we’re getting quality care out to the people who need it the most.”