Tag: 9/11

9/11, Hurricane Season, and disaster-related Secondary Traumatic Stress

Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 Terror Attack, and like many Americans I can easily recount where I was at when I saw the coverage of the attack. The event dominated news media for weeks after the events unfolded, and became enshrined as a defining moment of 21st century America.

I cannot even begin to fathom the first hand experiences of people who directly impacted from the attack, but for many, the day is a permanent memory of the way they felt, perceived, and witnessed everything unfold.

Secondary Traumatic Stress occurs when an individual hears the recounting of another’s traumatic life event. Often, the symptoms are similar to that of the more commonly known Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. In recent years, there has been more research being done to see the effects of disasters that affect those beyond those immediately experiencing an event.

In the wake of the recent disasters of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, we have seen coverage of their destruction everywhere from major news sources to the social media that we consume for updates from loved ones. A recent New York Times piece noted that the Weather Channel, being the only network to provide 24/7 access to coverage of the recent Hurricanes, had seen its audience increase nearly tenfold. The coverage of these storms has been vast, because the scale of the destruction of these storms has been unprecedented.

Covering these events is vital, it is important that we do not sensor the news that we receive just because of the harmful effects that it may have on us. But, by being more aware, and staying informed, we can acknowledge the way that having information so freely available can help us to cope, and hopefully heal, together.


Sources –

New York Times Piece: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/09/business/media/weather-channel-hurricane-irma.html?_r=0

Secondary Traumatic Stress: http://www.nctsn.org/resources/topics/secondary-traumatic-stress

Scan of a brain after a stroke

Not calling 911 after stroke hurts many African Americans

A recent study in the journal Stroke reports that most African Americans call a friend or relative instead of 911 when they first notice signs of a stroke. As the Washington Post reported, the consequences can be deadly;

In the United States, the rate of first strokes in African Americans is almost double that of whites, researchers say, because of higher incidences of risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity. And strokes tend to occur earlier in life for African Americans. Studies have also shown that fewer blacks than whites receive a treatment that breaks up the blood clot in the brain causing the stroke, in part because blacks are not getting to the hospital in time.

The good news is that the information from this study is helping health communicators to better understand disparities in treatment. This information will also help health communicators to take action by tailoring materials about stroke specifically for populations who may not trust the health care system, or who don’t call 911 out of fear they will have to pay for the ambulance ride. The Post told the story of one lucky stroke victim who called her mom after she woke up feeling numb;

Riley thinks about 10 minutes lapsed before an ambulance arrived. She made a full recovery. She didn’t call 911, she said, because “I was afraid they wouldn’t understand me.”

According to the Washington Post, the American Heart Association and the Congressional Black Caucus have  launched a national campaign for stroke awareness that targets African Americans.

What do you think of these health communication efforts to address disparities in incidences and responses to stroke; are they enough to fight the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., one that disproportionately occurs in minority populations?

2011 National Children's Mental Health Day logo

Children and PTSD: Where are they now?

May 3 was National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that

When exposed to a traumatic event, children as young as 18 months can have serious emotional and behavioral problems later in childhood and in adulthood. More than 35 percent of children exposed to a single traumatic event will develop serious mental health problems.

So, how are the children who lived through 9/11 doing nearly a decade later, or the children who lived through Hurricane Katrina nearly six years ago? What about the children in Afghanistan and Iraq who have undergone multiple traumatic events over the last decade, and who are now coming of fighting age? If the above statistics hold true, then maybe addressing and trying to treat PTSD within the populations of war-torn countries is another way we could help stabilize those areas.

How can national and international health communication efforts help prevent the serious adult mental illnesses that arise from childhood trouble? SAMHSA notes that there are effective strategies for aiding children who have experienced trauma, such as being around resilient parents or other adults, maintaining social connections and teaching social and emotional competence to children.

Click here for a list of resources related to children’s mental health