Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
9/11 PTSD Health Coverage
Many New Yorkers and first responders who were present during 9/11 and the months following have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders and depression. Those who have suffered from PTSD due to 9/11 exposure may be eligible for no-cost medical monitoring and treatment.
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) was created by Congress in response to the unique medical needs of those affected by the attacks. Established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, the WTCHP provides no-cost medical treatment and monitoring to eligible survivors and responders who were affected by the terrorist attacks, including both physical and mental health conditions.
Unfortunately, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), created to provide financial compensation for physical injuries and 9/11-related cancers and illnesses suffered as a result of exposure to the 9/11 attacks, does not provide compensation related to mental health conditions such as PTSD. However, with the WTCHP in place, those who are suffering from symptoms of PTSD and depression, or another mental health problem as a result of exposure to the 9/11 attacks, can get the treatment they need.
Mental Health Post-9/11
The impact of the terror attacks on the people of New York City has been wide-reaching. Symptoms of PTSD are the most commonly reported health effect of the 9/11 attacks. New Yorkers lived, worked, or went to school in the vicinity of the Twin Towers, several miles of which were covered in clouds of toxic dust and debris in the weeks and months following the attack. The Twin Towers were not only a place of business for thousands of New Yorkers, but they were also symbols of the city. With the attacks so close to home, the entire city was affected in one way or another. Over 21% of residents enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry reported new PTSD symptoms 5 to 6 years after 9/11.
Researchers have studied the mental health of survivors, responders, recovery workers, and witnesses and found that increased risks of developing depression, PTSD, and other psychological problems among New Yorkers were common among those who experienced the attacks or its aftermath, or repeatedly witnessed the events on television.
What Triggered PTSD Related to 9/11
Unlike the physical health effects of 9/11 exposure, the mental health effects of the 9/11 attacks were not limited to survivors and responders. The physical and emotional trauma of the event itself triggered PTSD in many survivors and 9/11 first responders who were present at or near the WTC during or immediately after the attacks. Other triggers include the fear of future attacks and the loss of loved ones.
Exposure to the toxic dust, smoke and debris that lingered over Manhattan in the months following the attacks is another trigger responsible for PTSD related to 9/11. Furthermore, research has shown that PTSD and lower respiratory symptoms can influence each other over time.
What Was Unique About the Mental Health Response to 9/11
While destruction of life and property are the immediate effects of terrorism, the psyche has always been the number one target of terrorism. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 attacked the psyche of the American people as terrorism has done for generations. However, having been without precedent in America, the collective trauma of experiencing the event was felt by people across the nation.
Another reason the mental health response to 9/11 was unique is because of the lingering cloud of toxic dust and debris and the lingering smoke plume that threatened the health of New Yorkers for months after the attacks. Being exposed to these health threats has been associated with increased risk of developing 9/11-related PTSD, as well as anxiety and depression.
Mental Health and the WTCHP
The WTCHP provides mental health services, including diagnosis and treatment, to those who are suffering from the psychological effects of 9/11, such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety. To be eligible for the program, an individual must have been present at one of the 9/11 attack sites or surrounding areas at some point between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002. The program is open to rescue and recovery workers as well as individuals who lived, worked, or went to school in the exposure areas.
Work with an Experienced 9/11 PTSD Attorney
If you are a survivor, first responder, or recovery worker of the 9/11 attacks and you are suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or depression, you may be eligible for medical monitoring and treatment through the WTCHP. An experienced 9/11 attorney can help you register with the WTCHP and get the care you need. At Hansen & Rosasco, LLP, we take pride in helping you understand your rights and can guide you through the entire process. Contact us today.