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Coping with the Gulf Oil Spill - Mental Health Information

Practical advice on how to deal with the effects the Gulf oil spill can have on your mental health

Get Tips for Dealing with the Gulf Oil Spill for:

  • Parents and Teachers
  • Response Workers
  • General Public
    (Cambodian, Haitian/Creole, Lao, Spanish, and Vietnamese translations available.)

Intense Feelings are Expected

Over the years the residents of the Gulf coast have demonstrated remarkable resilience. Individuals, families and communities impacted by the oil spill are taking steps to adjust and adapt to the situation. The reaction to financial and personal stress created by the spill is different for each person. Most may not need any help or they may need only a little extra support to help them cope with the change in livelihood.

Talk about Feelings with Friends and Family

Talking about the way you feel, taking care of yourself by eating right, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol and getting some exercise can help to manage and alleviate stress.

Take Care of Each Other

Check in with your friends and family members to find out how they feel. Feeling stressed, sad, or upset are common reactions to life changing events. Learn to recognize and pay attention to early warning signs of serious problems.

Know When to Seek Help

Depending on their situation, some people may develop depression, experience grief and anger, turn to drugs and alcohol, and even contemplate suicide. The signs of serious problems include:

  • excessive worry
  • frequent crying
  • an increase in irritability, anger and frequent arguing
  • wanting to be alone most of the time
  • feeling anxious or fearful, overwhelmed by sadness, confused
  • having trouble thinking clearly and concentrating, and difficulty making decisions
  • increased alcohol and/or substance use
  • physical aches, pains, complaints

If these signs and symptoms persist and interfere with daily functioning, it is important to seek help for yourself or a loved one.

How to Find Help

Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin recorded video public service announcements (PSAs) that encourage Gulf-state residents to seek help for mental health and behavioral problems stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Note to Producers: Below find links to public services announcements provided by HHS on mental health resources by community. Each downloadable audio file is voiced by Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and runs :30 seconds.

If you or someone you care about needs help, you should contact your health care provider or call the mental health crisis number for your area.

Anyone in suicidal crisis should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
  • En espaƱol: 1-888-628-9454

Seek professional help if you need it.

More information about keeping a healthy mental outlook during times of stress.