The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has sharply criticized BP for ignoring Louisiana’s plea for assistance in funding mental health care in communities affected by the BP oil spill.
“It is imperative that BP recognize the urgent mental health crisis that has been created by the oil spill, including the heightened risk of long-term, chronic mental illness triggered by immediate conditions,” wrote NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick in a letter to BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that the state has written to BP on two occasions asking for $10 million for mental health services, but they have not gotten a reply from the beleaguered oil company.
“Ours is a public health concern,” says Fitzpatrick. “The consequences of neglect and inaction are deadly.”
The $10 million would fund Louisiana Spirit, a subdivision of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals – Office of Mental Health. Its outreach teams would be funded for an estimated six months.
Job loss due to the BP oil spill has been associated with serious anxiety and depression. And this has been seen first hand by public officials in the areas hit worst by the oil spill.
“We’re basing it on what we’re seeing out in the field. We’re sending counselors and representatives out to the marinas and boat docks, where there are large clusters of people with high levels of frustration,” said John Ziegler, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Mental Health.
Update: Louisiana mental health care gets $15 million from BP in wake of oil spill