Dr. Christine Cauffield: Weathering mental health challenges

Photographs of Hurricane Ian victims cover a wall of flowers that make up a memorial at Centennial Park in Fort Myers. The memorial was started by Leo Soto, and the crosses bearing the victims' names were added by Roberto Marquez.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Ian will have reverberating effects on our state for years. News stories and videos of our communities wracked by death and destruction are seen across the world alongside continuing stories about events like the war in Ukraine and the COVID pandemic. 

Florida has been a state in mourning, fighting a mental health crisis fueled largely by a relentless opioid epidemic that has taken its toll on our communities and our collective psyche. 

Hurricane Ian added a new layer of misery in parts of our state, impacting health care facilities across Florida and making it difficult for medically vulnerable people to get care they need.

The storm’s aftermath includes lingering harm to many Floridians’ mental health. Many who lived through the storm or were indirectly impacted, are experiencing trauma responses to cope with losses. These responses include shock, depression, grief and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

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