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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

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