Natural Disaster Impact and Mental Health

CRCSI PhD student, Daniel Hogg studied how location, for example, where people live, affects how they mentally respond and recover after a major natural disaster.

Working with his supervisors at the University of Canterbury and the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB), Daniel, for the first time globally, demonstrated correlations between spatial factors and mental health outcomes after a major natural disaster, the Christchurch earthquake which killed 185 people and destroyed 70 per cent of Christchurch’s CBD and many thousands of houses. The work generated significant interest among researchers and health agencies. Daniel’s research had significant impacts in New Zealand with CDHB modifying policy around where it would provide post-disaster support services in the future.

The research analysed data from the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes and papers were published exploring how mental illness, location at the time of disaster and after the disaster are connected. One of the examiners of Daniel’s thesis commented: “In my experience, this thesis is among the best I’ve examined.”