Irma & Maria continue to Kill


The whispers of mental issues stemming from the stress from the 2017 natural disasters were real and Dr. Michael Turnbull – Clinical Psychologist shared information in this regard during a panel discussion that was held on 6 December at the Breezeway of the Central Administration Building.

Dr. Turnbull who spoke in depth about the effects the hurricanes had on children and persons suffering from chronic non-communicable diseases. The Clinical Psychologist said that stress was a main after effect of Irma and Maria.  He said: “After the hurricanes for example which was a significant traumatic event made this year an increase in what you call acute stress disorder.”

According to Dr. Turnbull some persons had post-traumatic stress disorder, while others had acute stress disorder which lasted a little longer.

Meanwhile, Dr. Turnbull is also reporting that there has been a significant rise in depressive disorders. “I didn’t get the numbers locally but we had over 200 deaths after the hurricane. A lot of these deaths can be attributed to (non-communicable) diseases,” he said.

In explaining the correlation between the non-communicable diseases and stress, Dr. Turnbull said: “If I was to make an estimated guess – a lot of these things (chronic non-communicable diseases) were exasperated or made worst by the significant number of stress that people were experiencing, that not only fast tracked, but made the significance of the diseases that they already had even worst.”

He said that recent numbers from PAHO said that depression in girls has gone up by over sixty percent and boys forty something percent in boys. As such, Dr. Turnbull said that the rise of mental health, depression and these disorders are significant within this region. He said that in his office they went from treating over a hundred and something people a week to now maybe two hundred or more. Sometimes at the highest level.

“After the hurricane after we partnered with the Ministry of Education and we had about ten volunteers here. We treated over 1,500 children and of those children over 500 had a diagnosable mental disorder. At that time after the hurricane because of all the different circumstances they were facing,” he said.