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Flint, Michigan Residents Report High Rates Of Depression and PTSD 5 Years After Water Crisis
This week, data from the largest mental health survey of the Flint, Michigan community revealed that one in five adults, or roughly 13,600 people, were estimated to have clinical depression, and one in four, or 15,000 people, were estimated to have PTSD five years after the water crisis began.
What We Know:
It was April 2014 when Flint residents first reported changes to the water’s color, smell and taste. Not long after, reports of children suffering from mysterious illnesses began to make national news. Following outraged by residents tests by the US Environmental Protection Agency and scientists at Virginia Tech detected dangerous levels of lead in the water. This week, a new study is adding to the Flint Water Crisis conversation by exploring environmental disasters like the water crisis can have long-term consequences for mental health.
CNN reports, the study conducted consisted of a sample size of 2,000 adults living in Flint throughout the water crisis were asked about their experiences. More than half of the people surveyed were women and more than half of all respondents identified their race as Black or African American. The study asked about their psychological symptoms five years after the crisis, and if they had access to or used mental health services between August 2019 and April 2020. Most of the responses were gathered before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The study concluded that 1 in 5 Flint residents met the criteria for presumptive major depression, 1 in 4 for presumptive post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more than 1 in 10 for both disorders. The study also found that, “Individuals who believed that their or their family’s health was moderately or greatly harmed by the water crisis were 123% more likely than their peers to have depression, 66% more likely to have PTSD, and 106% more likely to have comorbid depression and PTSD,” the study said.
These findings call for early action following environmental disasters as well as including mental health recourses to resiliency plans. “The Flint community may require expanded mental health services to meet continued psychiatric need,” the researchers wrote in the study. “National disaster preparedness and response programs should consider psychiatric outcomes.”