Changes in African Americans' Mental Health Status Associated with Hurricane Losses

Authors: Amanda Martinez*, Dept of Geography & Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Denver, Deborah Thomas, Dept of Geography & Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Denver, Peter Anthamatten, Dept of Geography & Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Denver
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Ethnic Geography, Temporal GIS
Keywords: hurricanes, hurricane losses, African Americans, Louisiana, Mississippi, temporal patterns, mental health, disaster losses, disasters, vulnerability, regional geography
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Hurricanes differentially affect socially vulnerable, marginalized populations. A growing body of research documents the disparities for short- and long-term impacts on vulnerable populations. Community mental health is a crucial dimension of resilience and recovery in the aftermath of hurricanes, and often varies for subpopulations. This study evaluates how the mental health of African Americans in areas heavily affected by hurricane losses along the Gulf Coast differs from African Americans living in comparable unaffected areas. Using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and Spatial Hazards Events and Losses (SHELDUS) data, spatial and temporal patterns of change in mental health status associated with losses from hurricanes during 1991-2015 are assessed. Measures of the percent of African Americans reporting frequent mental distress and mean mentally unhealthy days from the BRFSS are combined with injuries, fatalities, and property losses resulting from hurricanes in SHELDUS to evaluate associations between mental health status and major hurricane events.

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