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Powerless

The U.S. Northern Command comes to the aid of Maria-hit Puerto Rican residents. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Defense Department; TAU page photo courtesy of West Virginia Air National Guard)

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 27, 2017) — Mental health issues, including mood disorder and substance abuse, are among the number of lasting effects that will be experienced on Puerto Rico in the months ahead.

Much of these afflictions, writes Shao Lin, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and associate director of Global Health Research in the School of Public Health, will be due to the power outages that have made daily life on the island vastly more stressful.

In her article, “The mental health toll of Puerto Rico’s prolonged power outages,” written for the Oct. 24 issue of The Conversation, delves into the mental health issues that appeared or were exacerbated by the 12-14 days power outages during Hurricane Sandy in late October of 2012. These conditions will be worse in Puerto Rico, where such outages have now existed for more than a month, with 80 percent of the island still without power.

Shao Lin of Public Health
Shao Lin, professor of Environmental Health Sciences

Lin not only explores the stress and depression caused by types of outages and physical loss, but the varying ways that power loss affect people by age, gender and socioeconomic status.

The research on the impact of Sandy, published in June of this year, was led by Lin with support from fellow Environmental Health faculty member Shinjen (Jimmy) Lu; John Justino, director of the Center for Global Health; G. Dong of Sun Yat-Sen University,School in Guangzhou,China; and Environmental Health Ph.D. student Ursula Lauper.

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