Gulf oil spill triggers stress

The massive BP oil spill has caused psychological distress for about one-third of people in coastal areas of states on the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new survey of 406 adults age 21 and older.

Based on the K6 psychological distress scale, about 30 percent of respondents suffer from probable serious or probable mild/moderate mental illness 18 percent in Louisiana, 14 percent in Florida, 12 percent in Mississippi and 10 percent in Alabama, United Press International reported.

Probable serious mental illness was detected in 32 percent of respondents who make less than $25,000 a year, compared with two percent of those who make more than $100,000 annually.

The percentage of Louisiana residents suffering serious mental illness due to the BP oil spill is double what it was among south Louisiana residents in July 2007, two years after the state was devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to Dr. Joseph E. Bisordi, chief medical officer of the Ochsner Health System, UPI reported.

"To see so many people mired in psychological misery and in worse shape than they were after Katrina is disheartening," he said in a news release. "This benchmark identifies the need for mental health services throughout the region." (Healthday News, August 2010)

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