Advertisement

The Impact of the San Diego Wildfires on a General Mental Health Population Residing in Evacuation Areas

  • Steven TallyEmail author
  • Ashley Levack
  • Andrew J. Sarkin
  • Todd Gilmer
  • Erik J. Groessl
Original Article

Abstract

San Diego County Mental Health system clients completed a questionnaire after the October 2007 wildfires. As compared to those not in an evacuation area, those residing in an evacuation area reported significantly more impact of the fires. Clients who evacuated were most affected, followed by those in an evacuation area who did not evacuate. Evacuation strongly impacted client-reported emotional effects of the fire, confusion about whether to evacuate, and ability to obtain medications. Gender and clinical diagnosis interacted with evacuation status for some fire impact variables. Loss of control and disruption of routine are discussed as possibly related factors.

Keywords

Mental health Natural disaster Wildfires Evacuation Trauma Community mental health services 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Adult and Older Adult Mental Health Services for access to the management information systems.

References

  1. Berren, M., Santiago, J. M., Zent, M. R., & Carbone, C. P. (1999). Health care utilization by persons with severe and persistent mental illness. Psychiatric Services (Washington, D. C.), 50(4), 559–561.Google Scholar
  2. Bromet, E., Schulberg, H. C., & Dunn, L. (1982). Reactions of psychiatric patients to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Archives of General Psychiatry, 39(6), 725–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chorpita, B. F. B., & David, H. (1998). The development of anxiety: The role of control in the early environment. Psychological Bulletin, 124(1), 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dirkzwager, A. J., Kerssens, J. J., & Yzermans, C. J. (2006). Health problems in children and adolescents before and after a man-made disaster. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 45(1), 94–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dorn, T., Yzermans, J. C., Spreeuwenberg, P. M., Schilder, A., & van der Zee, J. (2008). A cohort study of the long-term impact of a fire disaster on the physical and mental health of adolescents. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21(2), 239–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eustace, K., MacDonald, C., & Long, N. (1999). Cyclone Bola: A study of the psychological after-effects. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 12, 285–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Faust, D. S., Black, F. W., Abrahams, J. P., Warner, M. S., & Bellando, B. J. (2008). After the storm: Katrina’s impact on psychological practice in New Orleans. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Foa, E. B., Stein, D. J., & McFarlane, A. C. (2006). Symptomatology and psychopathology of mental health problems after disaster. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 67(Suppl 2), 15–25.Google Scholar
  9. Galea, S., Ahern, J., Resnick, H., Kilpatrick, D., Bucuvalas, M., Gold, J., et al. (2002). Psychological sequelae of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(13), 982–987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Galea, S., Brewin, C. R., Gruber, M., Jones, R. T., King, D. W., King, L. A., et al. (2007). Exposure to hurricane-related stressors and mental illness after hurricane Katrina. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(12), 1427–1434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gray, M. J., Maguen, S., & Litz, B. T. (2004). Acute psychological impact of disaster and large-scale truama: Limitations of traditional interventions and future practice recommendations. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 19(1), 64–72.Google Scholar
  12. Kawachi, I., & Berkman, L. F. (2001). Social ties and mental health. Journal of Urban Health, 78(3), 458–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kendler, K. S., Karkowski, L. M., & Prescott, C. A. (1999). Causal relationship between stressful life events and the onset of major depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156(6), 837–841.Google Scholar
  14. Malla, A. K., Cortese, L., Shaw, T. S., & Ginsberg, B. (1990). Life events and relapse in schizophrenia. A one year prospective study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 25(4), 221–224.Google Scholar
  15. McCaslin, S. E., Jacobs, G. A., Meyer, D., Johnson-Jimenez, E., Metzler, T., & Marmar, C. (2005). How does negative life change following disaster response impact distress among Red Cross responders? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36, 246–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McDermott, M., Duffy, M., & McGuiness, D. (2004). Addressing the psychological needs of children and young people in the aftermath of the Omagh Bomb. Child Care in Practice, 10(2), 141–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McMurray, L., & Steiner, W. (2000). Natural disasters and service delivery to individuals with severe mental illness—ice storm 1998. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 45(4), 383–385.Google Scholar
  18. Murphy, S. A. (1987). Self-efficacy and social support. Mediators of stress on mental health following a natural disaster. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 9(1), 58–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Norris, F. H., Friedman, M. J., & Watson, P. J. (2002). 60,000 disaster victims speak: Part II. Summary and implications of the disaster mental health research. Psychiatry, 65(3), 240–260.Google Scholar
  20. Press, A. (2007, 10/15/2009). California wildfires trigger widespread evacuations. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15561235.
  21. Repard, P., Steele, J., & Petrillo, L. (2007, October 23). Fire damage severe, but worst may be over. San Diego Union Tribune.Google Scholar
  22. Rodriguez, J. J., & Kohn, R. (2008). Use of mental health services among disaster survivors. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 21, 370–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Soeteman, R. J., Yzermans, C. J., Kerssens, J. J., Dirkzwager, A. J., Donker, G. A., van den Bosch, W. J., et al. (2006). The course of post-disaster health problems of victims with pre-disaster psychological problems as presented in general practice. Family Practice, 23(3), 378–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Vigil, J. M., & Geary, D. C. (2008). A preliminary investigation of family coping styles and psychological well-being among adolescent survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Journal of Family Psychology, 22(1), 176–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wirz-Justice, A., & Van den Hoofdakker, R. H. (1999). Sleep deprivation in depression: What do we know, where do we go? Biological Psychiatry, 46(4), 445–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Tally
    • 1
  • Ashley Levack
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Sarkin
    • 1
  • Todd Gilmer
    • 1
  • Erik J. Groessl
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Services Research Center, Department of Family and Preventive MedicineUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

Personalised recommendations