Depression, Abuse, Suicide: Fishermen’s Wives Face Post-Spill Trauma
By Mac McClelland
Inside a cool, shaded old plantation house in St. Bernard, Louisiana, we’re all breathing in our favorite color and blowing out gray smoke.
This relaxation exercise is brought to a roomful of women by the St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit founded in 2006 to provide rebuilding services to Katrina-ravaged St. Bernard Parish as well as offer “psychological rebuilding” through its wellness and mental-health center. Since the oil spill started, the organization has been looking to vastly expand its services to meet the area’s latest mental-health crisis: the unrelenting depression falling on families living and working on the Gulf Coast. Everyone here except the three clinic workers and me is a fisherman’s wife.
Michelle, the clinical coordinator running this early-morning support group, asks the five wives who have come what the St. Bernard Project can do to help them.
“I don’t know, because I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
“We need work. For the wives.”
“Whatever happens needs child care. If wives are gonna start workin’, someone has to take care of the kids. A lot of fishermen have kids.”