Post-Hurricane Harvey Recovery
SUMMARY – In September 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast, destroying property, upending businesses, and devastating families. The Meadows Institute and its Texas Gulf Coast regional center, The Hackett Center for Mental Health, dedicated their efforts to helping the region – and especially its children – recover from the emotional toll the storm inflicted upon them.
Case Study Details
Our analysis found that affected Texans’ needs for mental health care would increase significantly for a long time after Hurricane Harvey. A year and a half after the storm, children between the ages of 5 and 11 who were impacted by the storm were five times more likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than other children. Young people between 12 and 17 affected by the storm were three times more likely to suffer from PTSD, with nearly twice the likelihood of having other mental illnesses.
In the first year, the Meadows Institute was asked to provide support to the Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health Supports (Task Force), providing administrative and operational support, as well as subject matter expertise. The Task Force was established at the request of Gov. Greg Abbott to address mental health needs in Texas schools by initiating and supporting federal, state, and local coordination to link schools with appropriate resources.
A longer-term goal was to build the infrastructure needed to more effectively connect students to resources in their communities.
In 2019, The Hackett Center underwrote and coordinated post-Hurricane Harvey grant applications that secured American Red Cross funding to support mental health recovery in a number of affected school districts, along with trainings throughout the gulf region to build sustainable infrastructure to improve trauma and crisis response. The Hackett Center provided technical assistance to support the grants’ goals, including the securing of behavioral health coordination specialists and local partnerships to provide outreach, recovery education, access to mental health services, and to build community partnerships.
Two years after Harvey, when several schools flooded as a result of Tropical Storm Imelda, the supports we helped establish proved their efficacy by reducing the risk of re-traumatization and long-term mental health issues in students within those impacted school systems.
Hurricane Harvey Registry
Natural disasters are known to contribute to mental health problems. This post-Harvey survey shows the difficulties are pervasive.
The signing of SB 11 and HB 18 represents a revolutionary step forward for mental health care in Texas, expanding access to education and care for Texas children and their families.
Mental Health in Schools
Texas is better positioned to support children’s mental health with the Child Psychiatry Access Network and Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine.