Recent natural disasters exacerbate mental health problems for Kentucky children

Nadia Ramlagan
public news service

Home displacements and psychological trauma from natural disasters over the past year have likely worsened the mental health of children in the Commonwealth, according to experts, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Databook. The state has already seen a 28% increase, according to new data. Anxiety or Depression in Children 2016-2020.

Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, noted that economic uncertainty and inflation are placing additional strains on households trying to recover from floods and tornadoes.

Annie E. Casey Foundation research shows that the state a child is born in, along with family and community characteristics, ultimately influences their chances of prosperity. (Photo from Adobe Stock, via PNS)

“New data confirms what common sense has told us all along: Growing up is hard,” Brooks said. “Growing up in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a natural disaster.” In addition to doing, it’s a multiplier.”

More than 200,000 children still live in poverty across the state. According to the report, Kentucky ranks her 37th among states for overall child happiness.

Louisville psychologist Joseph Barguione said more than half a million Kentucky children who attend public schools have been diagnosed with a mental disorder. He said he needed time and space to express his feelings and have them validated.

Bargione says:

According to him, middle and high school students often experience sleep disturbances, eating disorders, agitation and anxiety.

Gerry Roll, executive director of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, said now is the time to make smart investments in eastern Kentucky. This allows us to build strong community foundations and build new homes on land that is less susceptible to flooding.

“But I think what we’re going to do is think about, ‘How do we rebuild in a more resilient way,'” Rolle said.

Displacement and lack of affordable housing are also limiting the resources families have for other necessities such as food, medical care and transportation, the report said.

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