Healthy and resilient communities: Lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

By: Larissa Graham / Published: Oct 11,  2016

Our Oil Spill Science Outreach Team has been busy, especially now that Phase II is under way! (Read my last blog post if you want to learn more about the next phase of our program.)

Over the past year or so, we have been learning a lot about how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected the health of our coastal communities. Scientists have shown that the oil spill had negative impacts on the mental health of some Gulf Coast residents. We will have an outreach publication coming out soon on this topic but below is a sneak peek of some of the impacts.

While scientists were studying communities, they were also able to identify traits that made communities more resilient after the oil spill. Two weeks ago, we held a seminar that brought experts from around the Gulf together to talk about this topic. If you aren’t familiar with the term, to be “resilient” can be defined in many ways, including the ability to bounce back. Below are some of the terms that our experts use to describe what resilience means to them.

During the seminar, scientists talked about the importance of capital, the difference between how communities react to natural and man-made disasters, and how religion, social support, meaning in life, and perceived resilience play into recovery. Experts talked about resources that are available for communities and community members and discussed how to continue to make communities more resilient. All of the presentations from this seminar are available on our website at

If you are interested in joining our e-mail list, feel free to e-mail or call (251-438-5690) me. Once you’re on our list you’ll receive emails when we release a new publication (such as the one on mental health that will be out soon!) and announcements about upcoming seminars. Of course, feel free to e-mail or call if you have any questions about the spill. I’m here to help!


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