British Petroleum Grants USD 12.3 m to Alabama Scholars

HOUSTON, June 11: British Petroleum has granted USD 12.3 million to two University researchers of South Alabama for health outreach programmes targeting people affected by America’s worst oil spill, in line with a court settlement in the 2010 disaster.
The grants, largest received at the school related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, targets people who were affected by oil spill, but will also be used to develop programmes and services with future disaster victims in mind.
Steven Picou, a sociology professor at USA, will use his grant money to help train individuals along the Gulf Coast on skills needed for mental health outreach.
Picou was involved in studying the mental health effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.
“Their task is to help individuals and families gain access to health services, mental health and environmental health services,” said David Johnson, USA’s senior vice president for academic affairs.
In some cases, the people involved in the study will be coming from communities that were affected by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April 2010, said Johnson.
Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, a professor in the department of psychology, will assist clinics in Mobile and Baldwin counties “in developing programmes so that individuals who have been affected by the oil spill can get services they need”.
Johnson said she would also help “build capacity” when future disasters occur so that individuals who have been affected can get services they need.
The purpose of Langhinrichsen-Rohling’s grant-funded programme is to strengthen community support systems, so that help is available for people who lose jobs and income due to a disaster.
He said the assistance will include counseling services and other medical services, plus outreach.
“We want to get outreach to them earlier so we can prevent suicide or family violence,” said Johnson.
“If you could get services to someone experiencing depression you might save a life”. (PTI)

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