Disaster Behavioral Health: Risks and Preparedness in a Natural Disaster-Prone Region

Aisha Sadiq, Graduate Student, Department of English, University of Houston

The proposed research project contributes to the dissociation of behavioral health from its conceptual and organizational segregation in health care with increased comprehension of natural disaster risks, preparedness, and equity in public health to develop resilient individuals and communities. The proposed study highlights potential behavioral health risks associated with floods and identifies the vulnerable population in the disaster-prone region of Kashmere Gardens, Houston. The proposed research also aims to provide recommendations for future action in public health to counter the challenge of disaster behavioral health. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) considers the co-occurring disorders of mental health and substance abuse as the potential behavioral health risks that individuals and communities may experience during natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. According to American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), more than 103 million adults in the United States--more than 4 in 10 (41%)--experienced negative mental health or behavioral health condition and/or developed a co-occurring substance use disorder in 2020. The significance of research in disaster behavioral health for emotionally healthy individuals and communities has multiplied recently in the context of natural disasters, economic recession, and systematic racism in the USA.