Depressive Symptoms in Black and White Volunteers: Six-month Post Deadly Natural Hazard Hurricane: Does Race Identity Matter?

Sabrina Lane Dickey, La Tonya Noel, Amy L Ai


Natural hazards have become increasingly common in the United States, wherein across the nation residents are exposed to floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and a host of other events that occur due to changes in the climate. Amid providing care for communities that have encountered a natural hazard, the volunteers and rescuers are also exposed to the trauma caused by the natural hazard. The primary focus of the study was to elucidate differences in mental health symptoms of the volunteers by race and to determine if years of experience with previous trauma predicts and has a relationship with the development of mental health symptoms. A total of 182 social work students from 3 public universities that were from areas impacted during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and volunteered in the aftermath, consisted of our sample. The participants completed surveys regarding demographics, mental health symptoms, various stressors, and the presence of social support. Depression scores among Black participants were significantly higher (M = 17.74) compared to White participants and participants of younger age were more likely to experience depression. A final statistical model revealed negative emotion among Black participants indicated a decreased likelihood of developing depression when compared to White participants. The findings indicate the importance of providing adequate training and mental health resources for volunteers and particularly Black volunteers in an effort to prevent the occurrence of depression, which could potentially decrease their overall mental health after a natural hazard.

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Copyright (c) 2024 Sabrina Lane Dickey, La Tonya Noel, Amy L Ai

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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