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Tags: mental | health | september

Mental Health Workers Victims of 9-11

Monday, 02 April 2012 09:00 PM EDT

Mental health workers who helped victims of the September 11 attacks have suffered high levels of secondary traumatic stress – years after the event -- suggesting they themselves have been overlooked victims of the tragedy, according to new research.
The study, by Mary Pulido of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in the US, provides what she called “a sobering account of what it was like for these professionals and … the lack of support they received.”
She said her research, published in the Clinical Social Work Journal, highlights the critical need to develop training and expand support systems for clinicians who work with people who experience traumatic events.
“Disaster mental health workers may be at particularly high risk of this co-called secondary traumatic stress,” she said. “Not only are they exposed to the stressors and psychic pains experienced by their clients, they carry the professional burden of being expected to remain open and available to their clients on an emotional level. In the case of 9-11, these clinicians were also exposed to the same disaster as those they were helping.”
Pulido conducted in-depth interviews with 26 mental health clinicians -- therapists, social workers and psychologists -- who worked with victims of the September 11 attaks. She asked about the extent of their work, how it had affected them and what types of support systems they had to cope with job-related stress.
Some clinicians dealt directly with family members who had lost loved ones, others dealt with people who fled the burning towers, and some worked with individuals who were indirectly exposed, but still fearful and symptomatic.
Nearly three years after the attacks, Pulido found: “Secondary traumatic stress levels were high among clinicians who provided care to victims of 9-11. The clinicians being interviewed were themselves surprised at the intensity of these stress levels.”
In addition, Pulido said the workers said support from their peers was helpful, but the availability of professional help was “weak.”
"For many professionals, these interviews, conducted several years after the attacks, served as the first time they had discussed their 9-11 work and the stresses they encountered,” Pulido said. “This factor alone speaks volumes for the lack of support that they received while providing such intense clinical support for their clients. These findings need to be integrated into training and practice."

© HealthDay

Clinicians who helped 9-11 victims have suffered high levels of secondary traumatic stress, as well.
Monday, 02 April 2012 09:00 PM
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