Antoine, S. and Callaghan, J. (2010) 'Jus' how me pick up me roof jus' so they want me to pick up me life too, you hear dat'. A thematic analysis of the experiences of adolescents following Hurricane Ivan in Grenada. Paper presented to: 3rd Qualitative Research on Mental Health Conference (QRMH3): The Disabled Self: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches to Stigma and Recovery, University of Nottingham, 25-27 August 2010.
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan caused catastrophic damage to Grenada. This paper draws on seventeen retrospective interviews with young adults (18-25), conducted in 2008 by Sonja Antoine, in which participants recalled their experiences during and after the hurricane, focusing on how they experienced and coped with its aftermath, and their experiences of care and intervention. Most psychological research on natural disasters focuses on PTSD and young people’s ‘psychopathological’ responses. In contrast, our research shifts away from the pathology oriented narrative and its potentially stigmatizing and disempowering implications, focusing instead on how young people within communities disrupted by the disaster recovered from and coped with the experience of Ivan. Using thematic analysis, we identified three key themes: ‘community, culture and the person therein’, ‘the individual in trauma’ and ‘power struggle – us versus them’. We explore a range of cultural issues relating to traumatic events, arising in community narratives, and locate these in relation to the Grenadian communities’ experiences of coping with the crisis. Considering the mental health implications of this analysis, we argue that in the aftermath of natural disasters, we need a more nuanced understanding of how mental health functions as a community issue