Psychological distress still impacting many N.J. Sandy survivors, survey finds

Photo: Julio Cortez/AP

Photo: Julio Cortez/AP

Emotional health concerns continue to impact a “significant number” of hard-hit Superstorm Sandy survivors, according to a Monmouth University Poll survey.

The survey released Thursday found that 20 percent of respondents say they need counseling, which is slightly less than the 23 percent who said the same in 2014. Fifteen percent of the participants said they display symptoms of serious distress, compared to 25 percent in 2013, while 17 percent report mild to moderate distress, compared to 22 percent four years ago, the survey found.

The respondents continue to show much higher rates of emotional distress compared to the general population. A 2012 survey found that just over one in 10 New Jersey residents display either serious (4 percent) or mild to moderate (8 percent) distress.

Displaced residents continue to show higher levels of distress than those who are back in their pre-Sandy homes, with 40 percent exhibiting serious emotional distress compared to 10 percent of those back home.

“As expected, psychological distress has continued to improve for Sandy victims over time, however the overall rate of serious distress for Sandy victims as compared to the general population remains a cause for concern,” said Dr. Christine Hatchard, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Clinical Psychology Research Center at Monmouth University.

“Being in distress for long periods of time can increasingly have a negative impact on all areas of people’s lives, such as relationships and careers. This compounds the distress originally associated with Superstorm Sandy, and the directly related issues like being displaced from their homes or dealing with financial consequences,” she added.

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