Due to the nature of the Mobile Bay communities, there have been and will continue to be natural and man-made disasters which effect the communities of this area to the point of emotional and financial hardship greater than the community is equipped to handle. In the past ten years, the area has experienced multiple damaging hurricanes (including Katrina), the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and multiple tornadoes, the last of which was on Christmas Day, 2012 which destroyed/severely damaged homes, businesses, and a major high school. These events have occurred during a time of severe financial depression throughout the nation and have hit under- and unemployed families the hardest.
It has been determined that the area of Mobile and Baldwin Counties may fair better after a severe disaster if the community is equipped with resiliency in order to cope with the after-effects of the disaster. Moreover, those communities may prepare better in the face of an on-coming disaster should they be both physically and mentally prepared to handle such situations. Solutions determined to meet the need for mental and behavioral health preparedness and resiliency include, but are not limited to, enhancing community access to mental and behavioral healthcare and training the community through workforce development programs aimed at those people who may encounter community members with mental and behavioral healthcare needs.
The Gulf Region Health Outreach Program was established under the Medical Settlement Agreement with BP for the Deepwater Horizon Incident, to expand capacity for and access to high quality, sustainable, community –based health care services including primary care, behavioral and mental health care, and environmental medicine in the Gulf Coast. As part of that settlement, BP and the Medical Benefits Class Counsel awarded the University of South Alabama and Dr. Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, a five year grant to provide mental and behavioral health treatment and longer –term supportive services to improve the overall well-being of individuals, families and communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon incident in Alabama.