After Two Hurricanes, A 'Floodgate' Of Mental Health Issues In The Virgin Islands

The new governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands has issued a territory-wide mental health state of emergency, after two hurricanes in 2017 caused widespread trauma and stress among islanders.
Damaged homes dot the hillside more than a week after Hurricane Irma made landfall in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept 17, 2017. Hurricane Irma slammed into the Leeward Islands on September 6 as a Category 5 storm, causing major damage on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas. Source: Chip Somodevilla

In the Virgin Islands, more than a year and a half after two major hurricanes struck the U.S. territory, the effects of the storms are still obvious. Many homes are uninhabitable. On others, blue tarps covering roofs are the only thing keeping the rain out.

But the storms had another, less visible impact: on the mental health of island residents. Vincentia Paul-Constantin, a mental health counselor who works with children in the public schools says, "We see ... regression in behaviors, especially with our little ones who had been potty-trained, reverted to using diapers." Among older children, Paul-Constantin says, "We see a lot of frustration, cognitive impairment, hopelessness and despair."

She traces it back to

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min read
Fed Eyes Another Interest Rate Cut To Prop Up The Slowing Economy
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to cut interest rates by a quarter percentage point. That could give a lift to the stock market but may not do much to help the economy amid the trade war.
NPR4 min readSociety
New Mexico Unveils Plan To Give Students Free College Tuition Regardless Of Income
Calling the plan "the moonshot for higher education," Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the plan could help 55,000 students attend college each year at a cost of up to $35 million.
NPR2 min read
Elections Do Little To Point The Way Out Of Israel's Political Impasse
The preliminary results show yet another near deadlock between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and its main centrist rival.