The destruction left by Hurricanes Irma and Maria
As International Medical Corps’ emergency response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria draws to a close, this will be our final update.
To continue support International Medical Corps and our GlobalGiving Projects, please visit our “Emergency Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) project, where International Medical Corps is providing a global response to the pandemic, including reaching Puerto Rico.
Learn more about our Coronavirus response here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/emergency-response-to-the-coronavirus-2019-ncov/
After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, International Medical Corps deployed its emergency response teams to Puerto Rico to meet the urgent needs of survivors, including healthcare; access to clean water; mental health; and more – providing health consultations for 290,000 people in the first year alone. Since then, we have focused on providing mental health services to help families recover: in 2019, we provided 1,108 people with mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services; and some 2 million people heard radio messages to help them better understand and access mental healthcare.
Our teams found that even before Hurricane Maria, individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions had difficulties accessing care. After the devastating impacts of Irma and Maria, barriers to health and mental health care were exacerbated by unmet basic needs, poor access to medical services and lack of a safe place to live, among other socioeconomic issues. Key vulnerable groups, such as older persons, disabled populations and mental health patients, were found to be particularly negatively impacted. Moreover, there was a major gap in addressing suicide prevention needs.
To address these needs, International Medical Corps has reached mental health patients, community members and health personnel with strategies for positive coping and emotional regulation as well as suicide prevention awareness. Art-based therapy is one component of our activities. Across the island, International Medical Corps has been supporting patients receiving psychiatric care with art-based therapy and training for community leaders on the signs of suicide. Our team has increased the capacity of community leaders to provide direct services and strengthened island-wide resources to combat the increasing rates of suicide, so that more individuals have the resources to address this challenge now and in the future.
Our suicide prevention program has reached more than 68 patients with mental health support, trained more than 440 health personnel and community leaders on suicide prevention and mental health, and reached more than 65,000 individuals through media campaigns on suicide prevention and emotional regulation. When a friend or family is contemplating suicide, one program participant stated, “It is so relieving to know that I will now be able to actually do something in this kind of situation.”
We thank GlobalGiving and the GlobalGiving community of donors for supporting International Medical Corps’ relief and recovery efforts following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Together, our impact has built greater resiliency to address the needs of future disaster survivors in Puerto Rico.
Our staff providing MHPSS services in Puerto Rico