Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill on Mental Health in Alabama Coastal Communities: “The Loss of a Season”

March 2014 (VOL. 32, NO. 1)

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One year after one of the largest oil spills in world history, two Alabama communities were still trying to recover. The Gulf Coast communities of Gulf Shores and Bayou La Batre are working to reestablish their identity as a major source for the shipping, tourism, and fishing industries. The Gulf Oil Spill may not have physically destroyed the community, but it did take a psychological toll. Researchers conducted focus groups using mental health professionals employed by Project Rebound, a state sponsored response to disasters in Alabama to explore the mental health effects of the Gulf Oil Spill. As the front line of the mental health response, Project Rebound clinicians collaborated with community service agencies to provide support to adults, children, and families in Alabama Gulf Coast communities. The semi-structured focus groups emphasized the unique qualities of the disaster, as well as the response and recovery efforts.