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The enduring mental health impact of the September 11th terrorist attacks: challenges and lessons learned.

Ozbay-F; Auf der Heyde-T; Reissman-D; Sharma-V
Psychiatr Clin N Am 2013 Sep; 36(3):417-429
The authors review the existing literature on the mental health impact of the September 11th attacks and the implications for disaster mental health clinicians and policy makers. The authors discuss the demographic characteristics of those affected and the state of mental health needs and existing mental health delivery services; the nature of the disaster and primary impacts on lives, infrastructure, and socioeconomic factors; the acute aftermath in the days and weeks after the attacks; the persistent mental health impact and evolution of services of the postacute aftermath; and the implications for future disaster mental health practitioners and policy makers. Key points:1) Training emergency response staff to carry out potentially traumatizing tasks that normally fall outside their scope of work before a disaster or before their deployment and limiting the length of shifts and total duration of work may reduce psychiatric morbidity in disaster workers. 2) Clinicians who treat disaster survivors must be familiar with the changing needs of a traumatized population over the course of time. 3) Once chronic, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a difficult condition to treat and is often comorbid with other major psychiatric disorders. Early interventions administered by well-trained, culturally and linguistically capable clinicians may prevent chronic PTSD and the myriad of comorbid psychiatric conditions that consume a substantial amount of resources in the long-term. 4) In the long-term, resources should be allocated to maintain an infrastructure to continue public outreach and psychoeducation while training clinicians in advanced and evidence-based treatments to address the complex comorbidity associated with chronic PTSD.
Emergency-response; Emergency-responders; Rescue-workers; Job-stress; Mental-disorders; Mental-health; Mental-illness; Mental-stress; Psychological-adaptation; Psychological-disorders; Psychological-reactions; Psychological-responses; Psychological-stress; Health-care; Health-programs; Health-services; Medical-care; Medical-monitoring; Stress; Emotional-stress
Fatih Ozbay, MD, The WTC Mental Health Program, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY.
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Psychiatric Clinics of North America