BP Needs to Pony Up for Mental Health Services


It’s absolutely outrageous that Louisiana’s Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine has had to ask BP – for a second time – to fund six months of mental health services for victims of the spill in our state. Levine requested $10 million yesterday after getting no response to the same funding request a month ago. The health secretary made an urgent plea to BP arguing that immediate action will help mitigate long-term mental problems, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies. After waiting patiently for a month, Levine has rung BP’s bell again.

State officials and academics have already reported an uptick in alcohol consumption, anxiety, anger and domestic violence. For hard evidence, we need to look no further than the recent suicide of 55-year-old charter fishing boat Captain Allen Kruse, who shot himself in the wheelhouse of his vessel last week (see my post, “Too Much to Bear”). The victims of Louisiana and elsewhere are going to need counseling, most likely lots of it. They have taken a huge hit, and many of them will not be able to heal themselves on their own.

BP needs to pony up the $10 million immediately. If they had done so a month ago, pain may have been eased and lives may have been saved…just ask the widow and fatherless young children of the late Captain Kruse.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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