• Dealing with the PTSD Urban Crisis



    Urban realities

    Roughly 3,500 American troops were killed during eight years of combat in Iraq, and over the same period, 3,113 people were killed on the streets of Philadelphia – a statistic mirrored in many American cities. In the city of Atlanta, 50% of inner city residents reported knowing a victim of murder. Victims of trauma are routinely retraumatized, which compounds their symptoms.

    Both victims and those who witness violence suffer from PTSD. Women are twice as likely to develop symptoms as men. Children with PTSD are often misdiagnosed with attention-deficit disorder, autism, or other mental illnesses.

    In spite of the crisis and escalating mental health needs, few hospitals treat PTSD or help patients cope with the physical and mental results of trauma. A 2014 ProPublica survey of 21 trauma centers in the nation’s most violent cities found that only three — New Orleans, Detroit and Richmond — routinely screened victims of violence for the disorder.

    Responding to the need

    Whether in medical, law enforcement, educational, spiritual, or corporate environments, increased efforts must be made to help people understand how to deal with the effects post traumatic stress disorder.

    • Law enforcement and those working in the judicial systems perform better on the job when they understand how to interact most effectively with those who suffer from PTSD symptoms.
    • Churches are more effective in fostering spiritual, emotional, and relational wellness when leaders and parishioners understand how to more effectively come alongside those who have suffered trauma.
    • Educators provide more meaningful classroom experiences when they understand the challenges of PTSD and create trauma-informed strategies for social and emotional learning.

    Practical steps

    If you or someone you know lives in an urban area or suffers from trauma, what can you do?

    • Share your story with someone you can trust. Telling your story is the first step toward processing your trauma.
    • Become informed about the symptoms and treatments for PTSD.
    • Encourage schools, law enforcement, and medical organizations to provide community and employee training.
    • Educate those in your community about hotlines and resources.
    • Learn about your triggers and how to manage them.
    • Talk with your physician about symptoms and mental health concerns.
    • Seek spiritual support and become involved in a network of supportive friends and loved ones.
    • If possible, find a therapist who specializes in trauma.

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