Sunday, November 12, 2006

Katrina Mental Health PSA #2

Ad agency Grey Worldwide worked with the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Ad Council to create a series of PSAs highlighting the need for Katrina surivors to reach out for help. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are rampant throughout the survivor population in the Gulf Coast.

They sent me down to photograph survivors for the ads. I spent a week in New Orleans and Mississippi. This is the second ad to come out.

CNN Commentary: Katrina victims 'stuck on stuck'
"It is morally intolerable that a year after Hurricane Katrina, many thousands of children and families are still suffering and going without critical supports like health care, mental health care and housing and schooling in the richest nation on earth.

Experts testified at a July congressional hearing in New Orleans that mental health needs are a critical concern for survivors. There are only 10 mental health pediatric and youth beds available in New Orleans, although the number of children with unresolved mental health problems has increased. There were 3200 physicians in Orleans and surrounding parishes before the storm; only 1400 are practicing now -- requiring many families to see unfamiliar doctors and to drive many miles for health care. Homelessness is on the rise, and thousands of people continue to live in shelters, trailer parks, and with relatives and strangers with no relief in sight -- just "stuck on stuck," as a homeless state employee said."


Anonymous said...

A couple of weeks ago I made my pilgrimage to New Orleans, the place of my hazy early childhood. I kept hearing about what a mess it still is down there, but my mind never wrapped around it until my eyes did. The search party crosshairs are still spraypainted on the majority of homes outside of the French Quarter and Garden District. I can't describe the feeling of walking down any street and being able to recount its last 14 months of history by tallying orange numbers. I'm glad you are able to make a collection of photographs from that place in this time. I couldn't do it. I would aim my camera at some ruin, and an image of its sad inhabitants would come toward me. Sometimes they were real - people looking beaten but resolute sitting on crumbling porches, staring back at tourists with their shoulders squared. Outside of the desperate revelry of Bourbon Street etc., New Orleans is still a time capsule. Piles of skeletal cars are stacked on the side of every spare stretch of highway. Piles of tires and other debris are marked by spray-painted signs that implore anyone to "Take me away." Flood lines and signs for help haven't been scrubbed off because there's nobody to scrub them. Metairie has pulled in on itself, trying to keep clean. On my girlfriend's street in Gentilly, FEMA trailers have arrived, but too late for people to live in them. She and her landlord are the only two living legally on a block full of broken windows peering into the creeping mold. Squatters come and go. A local acquaintance takes me to the levee in the Lower 9th and we barely have to tilt our heads up to see the top of it. I can't believe that something I've built up in my mind as monstrous and all-important seems so insignificant and small. A woman in Slidell told us that the storm took away her pet pig, who she hated and held onto until the last because "she was too ugly to breed or eat." Public transportation is on its bare bones, which is a shock for a New Yorker used to riding trains home from anywhere just before sunrise. When I finally found a cab driver who would take me to the airport, he said I "ain't so bad-lookin'.......for a Yankee" and invited me to come back anytime, for any period - hopefully for good. The cabbie had next to nothing and still gave me a break on the fare, stating that any city is only as good as its hospitality, and New Orleans will never be a place afraid to love somebody back. So thanks for continuing to love the place, and writing it letters, and sharing them.

grace said...

Your pictures are so immediate and seemingly so unobtrusive to your subjects. Maybe that's you.
I remember your discussion some time ago about the details of your camera. I think it was Posted in a Comment as a reply.
Can you carry me back?

Anonymous said...

I'm posting this image on TM (with a link) hoping it's ok with you based on our relationship and mutual concern for this issue. Say hey to your mom for me. And don't be a stranger!

Anonymous said...

I've added the images from both PSA's on my myspace site too, with a credit to you and link to this site. More people need to see what you see and read what you write. Some in this country may have forgotten, but I swear I will not be one of them!

Jenny Cook
St. Paul, MN

Anonymous said...


Your words, your pictures, your hope, your sadness, does more than you know. We'll fight forever, baby, through water or razorblades.

"Didn't anyone ever tell you that it's gonna be okay? I'll still be here tomorrow but I never left today...."

I'll never forget, baby. I'll never stop fighting, building, remembering. My kids will know what happened there. I'll make them understand that place as it is, as it was. I'll make them remember that pride that place will always have.

Anonymous said...

The Picture Project

Saw this on NBC nightly news tonight, and thought it needed to be passed on. What is "The Picture Project"? It is a labor of love above everything else, a task to help Katrinas victims claim something of themselves back, and give them perhaps a little closure. But I wont bore you with more of my words, instead I'll just cut & past from their site, "The Picture Project"

What is the Picture Project?
Volunteers from Erie, Pennsylvania traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi, in October with the goal of setting up a system to collect pictures found in the ruins after Hurricane Katrina, and eventually return these photos to their owners. Once there they learned that thousands of pictures had been found, yet no one knew who they belonged to or what to do with them.

The Picture Project is the Erie community's gift to the residents of the gulf coast and surrounding areas whose precious photos were lost in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In partnership with The Sun Herald, South Mississippi's Newspaper located in Biloxi, pictures from a six-county area will be collected and brought back to Erie where volunteers will catalogue and scan them onto the internet, where Kodak will assist in the project by printing the pictures free of charge and supplying the prints to those who claim them.

What is the duration of the Project?
Volunteer groups in Erie from local schools, churches, senior centers, retiree groups, etc. will work on the Katrina pictures until they are all posted. The Erie effort will serve as a blueprint for dealing with the loss of photos whenever a disaster strikes anywhere in the Country, be it a hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake, etc.

What help was secured?
The owner of the local United Van Lines franchise of Erie has delivered a Go Mini storage container from their Erie company to the parking lot of The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi. Picture collection points are set up at Wal-Marts in a six-county area where people who find pictures can leave them. These boxes will then be taken to the storage container at The Sun Herald and it will be trailered back to Erie for the work to begin. Erie's local ABC affiliate will partner with TV media in Biloxi to put out the word to residents there. Once the Go Mini Container is returned to Erie, the United Van Lines affiliate, JH Bennett Moving and Storage, will assist the project with utilization of its record management storage system. Locally, the Erie Historical Museum director has offered their help with the project. Werkbot Studios has agreed to develop a website, free of charge, for The Picture Project. Nationally known author, Ann Weiss, who wrote The Last Album, which describes how she retrieved pictures from Auschwitz-Berkenau concentration camp and returned them to the families of those murdered there, is helping with the project. She will garner national publicity for the sponsors. A graphic artist is designing a Picture Project shirt for volunteers to wear and for sale with the proceeds benefiting hurricane aid. Sponsors will have their names and logos on the shirt.

Many individuals in Erie want to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but cannot physically travel to affected areas and do not feel just donating funds is enough. This volunteer work can be done in their spare time right in their own community. Local high school students who must complete community service hours as part of their graduation requirements will be recruited to work on the project. This will teach them the importance of family history through photographs and give them a meaningful concept of what personal loss occurs in such a disaster.

Isn't this low on the priority list when people need food, water and shelter?
Yes. However, these material items can be supplied, but once a moment in time has passed, unless it has been captured in a photo and that photo saved, the physical memory is gone. Salvaging these memories can have a profound positive effect on the mental health of many families who suffered from the Katrina disaster. Without this project, some families will lose their entire history in photos.

Anonymous said...

I'm here in Seattle at a cybercafe, and the gentleman who just served me my coffee looked very familiar to me; it turns out he used to work at Kaldi's on Decatuer in the 90's, and used to serve me coffee there to. He's stuck here in Seattle and misses NOLA. I do to.

I'm from Chicago, but spent a lot of time in NOLA in the 90's. The tragedy of Katrina hits me all the time. My favorite place in the world will never be the same. Keep up the good work.

Robbin said...

Even those of us who were lucky enough to "move on" feel "stuck on stuck".

I am here in Arkansas, permanently. New job, new house, doing okay, but somehow I feel like I am living a "replacement life" in some parallel universe. I know I should feel grateful and lucky, but something just feels "missing". I want to go home, but home just isn't there anymore.

Heather Jane said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Clayton.
I hope things are improving.

Anonymous said...

Dear Clayton,

I'm a Junior at Georgia Tech in Atlanta Georgia. A week ago, a few of my friends went on a service project to Waveland Mississippi. I had the very great honor of meeting your mother and working on her home in Pearlington.

Let me first say that your mother is an amazingly incredible woman. She is very proud of all of her children, and sees that as her gift to the earth. She was so proud that she tells everyone about you and your site. I became very close with your mother, because I had visited your site about a year ago and knew all about it.

She told me when we first got there that she didn't really need any help. But upon walking around I found several things that needed to be addressed. The first thing we did was make her house water tight by putting the last bits of siding on. We found that the deck was 'bouncyh' so we reinforced it with planks. We made sure the house was painted (you really need to see her color scheme it is very beauitful). The one thing I take the most pride in, was getting your mother to move her matresses; so that your half brother could move into his room and so your mother could sleep on her bed (before we came they were still sleeping on their fema matress). She has the picture you took of you and your bother and herself. When I was there, she would come out ithe yard and talk to me for hours about you and your life and how proud she was.

What you have done for you mother was amazing, and I would like to thank you. For the little time I got to know her, I found her to be one of the most caring and loving individuals I have ever encountered. Thank you so much for all that you do. And if you get the chance tell your mother I said thank you too! It was a pleasure to help her.

Whitney Rudin