The long term psychological effect of the distress and trauma caused by the memory of damage and losses associated with flooding of communities remains an under researched impact of flooding. This is particularly important for communities that are likely to be repeatedly flooded where levels of mental health disorder will damage long term resilience to future flooding.
There are a variety of factors that affect the prevalence of mental health disorders in the aftermath of flooding including pre-existing mental health, socio-economic factors and flood severity. However previous research has tended to focus on the short term impacts immediately following the flood event and much less focus has been given to the longer terms effects of flooding. Understanding of factors affecting the longer term mental health outcomes for flooded households is critical in order to support communities in improving social resilience. Hence, the aim of this study was to explore the characteristics associated with psychological distress and mental health deterioration over the longer term.
The research examined responses from a postal survey of households flooded during the 2007 flood event across England. Descriptive statistics, correlation analysis and binomial logistic regression were applied to data representing household characteristics, flood event characteristics and post-flood stressors and coping strategies. These factors were related to reported measures of stress, anxiety, depression and mental health deterioration. The results showed that household income, depth of flooding; having to move out during reinstatement and mitigating actions are related to the prevalence of psycho-social symptoms in previously flooded households. In particular relocation and household income were the most predictive factors. The practical implication of these findings for recovery after flooding are: to consider the preferences of households in terms of the need to move out during restorative building works and the financial resource constraints that may lead to severe mental hardship. In addition the findings suggest that support with installing mitigation measures may lead to improved mental health outcomes for communities at risk.
Lamond, J., Joseph, R., & Proverbs, D. (2015). An exploration of factors affecting the long term psychological impact and deterioration of mental health in flooded households. Environmental Research, 140, 325-334. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2015.04.008