Flint, Michigan — One in four Flint residents met the criteria for PTSD and one in five experienced clinical depression five years after the onset of the Flint water crisis, according to a new study published Tuesday, September 20.
Researchers from Duke University, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Boston University announced their findings JAMA network is openand concluded that there is a significant unmet need for mental health services here and this need is unlikely to be dissipated without a comprehensive response from local, state and federal government agencies.
The study is based on a survey of 1,970 adults who lived in Flint during the water crisis, which erupted in April 2014 after the city’s water source was changed to the Flint River. Improperly treated river water was corrosive to driving water transmission and household plumbing pipes, resulting in high levels of lead as well as chlorination products and bacteria in city waters.
Population surveyed from August 2019 through April 2020, the study says, and Duke University reports that rates of depression and PTSD identified in Flint were three to five times greater than national estimates among all adults — likely a result of both rates. The top core mental health problems are here in addition to a significant increase in problems associated with water emergencies.
The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as a mental health condition that results from experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event with symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, intense anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
“This crisis, with its rapid onset and long duration, potential for exposure of individuals and family members to toxic substances, and misinformation from trusted officials, represents a traumatic event that can trigger or exacerbate mental disorders, particularly depression and … PTSD, which It may have long-term consequences for the mental health of the community,” the study says.
Nearly 97.8 percent of survey respondents said they experienced feelings ranging from anxiety and sadness to fear and anger in response to Flint’s water problems, and 41 percent reported mental or emotional problems related to their concerns about water pollution.
The study isn’t the first time mental health concerns have been acknowledged as part of the fallout from the water crisis, but the researchers said their work represents the largest mental health survey of Flint residents since the crisis.
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a Public Health Assessment in Flint To assess the behavioral and physical health concerns of adults and children as well as their access to behavioral health services.
That report said 66 percent of families reported that one or more adult members had at least one behavioral health problem “more than usual,” and 54 percent of families reported that at least one child had at least one behavioral health problem “more than usual.” ususally”.
Nearly one in five families reported difficulties accessing behavioral health services in the CDC assessment.
The new study notes that only 34.8 percent of survey respondents said they had accessed mental health services to help with mental symptoms associated with the water crisis, and it says nearly 80 percent of those offered services used those services.
A Genesee Health System spokeswoman said Wednesday, September 21, that the new study matches the agency’s anecdotal and internal trends.
Renee Keswick, director of communications and public relations at GHS, said in an email to MLive-The Flint Journal. “Most of the impact of the water crisis has resulted in the need for non-reimbursable Medicaid services.
“With this number passed, we have begun to develop the program with additional services such as the Urgent Behavioral Health Care Center to provide crisis and after-hours services. We will continue to work with the community to address these issues, and provide high-quality and accessible services,” Keswick said.
If individuals require mental health services, urgent behavioral health care is available from the agency around the clock by calling 810-496-5500. For all other questions, our agency can be contacted at 810-257-3705.
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