Natural Disasters Take a Toll on Mental Health

The impact of a natural disaster is often measured by a handful of numbers: the number of fatalities and injuries, the number of homes and buildings destroyed, the cost of cleanup and repair. It doesn’t often account for the emotional wounds inflicted on survivors.

Posted June 29, 2018 | By Knvul Sheikh

Read the article on

‘Katrina brain’: The invisible long-term toll of megastorms

Long after a big hurricane blows through, its effects hammer the mental-health system.

Posted October 12, 2017 | By Christine Vestal

Read the article in Politico.

Resilience, Suffering and Silver Linings After a Disaster

The torrential rains may have ended, yet many people in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean continue to feel the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma in unseen, dramatic ways.

Posted September 20, 2017 | By Susan Scutti

Read the article in CNN.

For Katrina Survivors, Harvey Could Take an Even Bigger Toll

For Katrina Survivors, Harvey Could Take an Even Bigger Toll

Posted September 1, 2017 | By E. A. Crunden

Surviving two similar natural disasters can have psychological consequences, experts say.

Read the feature in Think Progress.

Growth After Trauma

Growth After Trauma

Posted November 2016 | By Lorna Collier

Why are some people more resilient than others – and can it be taught? RISK Project’s Dr. Sarah Lowe comments.

Read the feature in American Psychological Association.


How Mental Health Shapes Recovery After a Disaster

A new study finds links between pre-disaster mental health and recovery.

Posted July 1, 2021 | Reviewed by Chloe Williams

When disaster strikes, people’s lives are changed in unexpected and unprecedented ways. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, man-made disasters such as terrorist attacks and chemical warfare, and public health disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic all cause individuals to suffer in a myriad of ways for which they are often unprepared.

Read the article in Psychology Today.


Density Is Normally Good for Us. That Will Be True After Coronavirus, Too.

The very thing that has made cities vulnerable in a pandemic has protected them in other disasters.

March 24, 2020 By Emily Badger

Study cited in NY Times


Can natural disasters facilitate growth for their survivors?

Findings from the RISK Project suggest that post-traumatic growth (PTG) was evident in five different key areas for most of the low-income survivors that participated in the study. Read more


You’ve heard of post-traumatic stress, but what about post-traumatic growth?

It’s the flip side: the deep psychological health that emerges surprisingly often when people have a close brush with a disaster like Hurricane Florence.

written by the RISK Project Principal Investigators, Jean Rhodes and Mary Waters.

Read more

The health dangers don’t stop with a hurricane’s churning. They can get worse.

The health dangers don’t stop with a hurricane’s churning. They can get worse.

By William Wan ,Lena H. Sun and Carolyn Y. Johnson
September 17

In coming weeks, long after Hurricane Florence’s winds and rains have faded, its aftermath will still pose life-threatening hazards: snakes, submerged sharp objects, bacterial infections and disease-carrying mosquitoes.