PTSD in Flint shows the cost of ignoring mental health during crises

"Trauma is the psychological manifestation of the worst outcomes that a disaster can drum-up: It’s not only living through a crisis but reliving it. The idea of providing “relief,” a term politicians frequently plaster onto disaster recovery policy, must return to its literal meaning — restoring a feeling of assurance and internal peace.  

During our research, we also interviewed residents of Flint. A 61-year-old Black man who lived in subsidized housing just outside Flint’s downtown core, described to us the early weeks of the city’s water switch — a cost-saving decision from a state-appointed financial emergency manager — which resulted in widespread contamination of resident’ tap water with lead, carcinogenic trihalomethanes, and various hazardous environmental bacteria. He vividly recounted the skin rashes and lesions he had developed shortly after the city's water source switch. Like others, he told us he was uneasy and didn't sleep well for months because he didn't know what was happening to him. Given his age, he said he also frequently had wondered if he was sick, perhaps even dying."


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Professor Jerel Ezell