The hidden horror of hurricane PTSD: How Harvey and Irma will affect the mental health of the millions forced to flee or fight for survival

When major disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit, the first priority is to keep people safe. This process can involve dramatic evacuations, rescues and searches.

However, after the initial emergency passes, a much longer process of recovering and rebuilding begins. 

For individuals, families and communities, this can last months or even years. 

This work often begins at the same time as the national media starts packing up and public attention shifts to the next major news story.

At the University of Missouri’s Disaster and Community Crisis Center, we study disaster recovery, rebuilding and resilience.

Much of our research shows that natural disasters can have a meaningful impact on survivors’ mental and behavioral health. 

These issues typically emerge as people try to recover and move forward after the devastation.

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