As hurricane season begins, the mental health impacts of Hurricane Michael remain
On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael permanently changed the physical and social landscape of the Panhandle. The things that were destroyed were innumerable, but not everything was tangible. The day after the storm, the Emerald Coast community was left looking at extensively damaged cities and towns, but also fractured mental stability.
"Disillusionment. You know, we here on the Panhandle have weathered many different storms, we've been here and experienced a lot of different storms. Hurricane Michael, obviously, was a lot different," said Dr. Kenneth Finch, a licensed mental health counselor.
In the weeks and months following the storm, mental health resources dwindled but the need remained. The range of that need remains high today, as a new hurricane season has arrived.
"You know anxiety, depression, PTSD usually starts months after the traumatic event so you know that was going on," said Brittany Cole with the Life Management Center of Northwest Florida. "People were just seeking help for their mental health."
The mental strain of a new season, coupled with the current unrest in the country as well as the coronavirus pandemic may prove overwhelming to many still dealing with the trauma from the storm.
Fortunately, there are things you can do on your own while waiting for help.
"Personal journaling. Journal about things of gratitude; what you are thankful for. Make a list of things that you are grateful and thankful for," Dr. Finch said. "Make a real intentional effort to exercise, make an intentional effort to create some real positive memories with friends and family."
Hurricane Seasons lasts from June 1 to November 30.