Nonprofit investigative newsroom, ProPublica, shined a spotlight on “The PTSD Crisis That’s Being Ignored: Americans Wounded in Their Own Neighborhoods” this week, highlighting the need for public health leaders across the United States to proactively address the lasting psychological wounds of Americans who suffer traumatic physical wounds at the hands of their own community members.
In the article, writer Lois Beckett, explores the complex issue of the public health community seriously addressing PTSD as a public health crisis that needs immediate attention—and a real problem that extends beyond our war veterans.
While the historical notion that “gang-bangers” are not susceptible to PTSD because they are already hardened to trauma, is no longer en vogue, currently few major trauma centers do little if anything to screen for PTSD in patients, most often citing lack of administrative support or financial resources.
However, Beckett dug up a couple diamonds in the rough tackling the issue head-on including:
- Spirit of Charity Trauma Center in New Orleans: screens all seriously injured patients for PTSD
- Drexel University’s Healing Hurt People program: deploys an interdisciplinary team consisting of an emergency physician, an internist, a psychiatrist, a social worker and a psychologist to work directly with victims seen in the emergency room for intentional injuries (gunshot, stab or assault wounds) to address the physical, emotional and social needs they face after being released from the hospital
The effects of PTSD on victims of violent crime and the communities where they live, learn, work and play are real and pressing. Negative health outcomes associated with PTSD include the possibility of “chronic hyperarousal” and subsequent retaliatory violence, family conflict and inability to maintain a job. Other symptoms include nightmares, paranoia and social withdrawal.
Cure Violence’s keystone site, CeaseFire Illinois, currently works in hospitals across the state to address or “interrupt” one effect of PTSD on victims of violence– retaliatory violence–before it spreads.