Case Vignettes From 2007 Mental Health Patients

An 8-year-old boy was evacuated from floodwaters where he witnessed dead bodies floating by. He had persistent school problems while living in a Texas homeless shelter. After resettling in New Orleans, he was referred because of disruptive behavior in school.
A 4-year-old girl who had been evacuated from New Orleans before the storm was separated from her parents for several weeks, during which details of her situation were unclear. She was referred from her preschool as an alternative to expulsion after she was reunited with her homeless family. It emerged that she recently had been prevented from setting her doll on fire.
Mental health referrals from pediatricians included a 5-year-old with sleep disorder and panic attacks whose apartment and possessions were destroyed in the hurricane and a 4-year-old whose mother had died the year before the hurricane. After Katrina, she had nightmares and regressed functioning, and she was diagnosed with PTSD.
A 7-year-old girl was rescued from the floodwaters by boat and placed in a shelter apart from her family. She had multiple cigarette burns when reunited with her family. In the first 2 years after the storm, she attended 5 different schools. Her symptoms included enuresis, hyperventilation, and self-injurious behavior. She was diagnosed with PTSD.
A 7-year-old previously diagnosed with PTSD after an automobile accident spent 5 days after the hurricane in a hospital building without adequate food and water. He was evacuated to 2 different states. When he returned to New Orleans, he presented with nightmares and a depressive disorder.
Other features of this referred population included animal cruelty, multiple school expulsions, and fighting that necessitated police intervention.
  • Source: Olteanu et al (2011).187