Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


The Psychological Impact

There is no doubt that September 11 has taken a psychological toll on New Yorkers. Learn more about how New Yorkers have been reacting and what resources are available to help you deal with mental stress caused by September 11.


What You Should Do
Gotham Gazette - October 8, 2001
Rebuilding New York City includes restoring New Yorkers' psyches. Maia Szalavitz talks to one of the world's leading, and most opinionated, experts on post-traumatic stress disorder.

More Resources

LIFENET is a free, confidential referral service of The Mental Health Association of New York City, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Mental Health. Their Project Liberty is a coordinated outreach and crisis counseling program for individuals, families, and groups most affected by the September 11th disaster and its aftermath.

1-800 LIFENET (1-800-543-3638) or 1-212-995-5824.
1-877-298-3373 or 212-533-7007 (Spanish)
1-877-990-8585 or 212-254-2731 (Asian Languages)

Safe Horizon
Hotline for anyone who needs help recovering from general distress, grief or the loss of a loved one. Call 800-621-HOPE (4673) or 212-577-7777.

List of Mental Health Services Facilities (in PDF format)
A list of support groups, counseling services, mental health clinics, and other resources around the city for dealing with psychological stress as a result of September 11. The list is provided by the city's Office of Emergency Management.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Web Links:

The PTSD Alliance - An informative website, by an alliance of organizations concerned with trauma and PTSD.
American Psychological Association's Trauma Page - A resource with information from the APA on coping with trauma and getting professional help.
The Sidran Foundation - A non-profit organization devoted to research, advocacy and education to help people who have experienced trauma
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies - Research and information about traumatic stress
Trauma Pages - A master resource created by a researcher in the field which links to numerous pages on PTSD and trauma.
Therapist Finder - An interesting page which offers help to people seeking specific types of therapists near them.
Child Trauma Academy - Info on helping children cope.

News Stories

Interviewers In 9/11 Oral History Project Were Changed By Experience - Feb 14, 2003
About a year ago, 30 interviewers armed with tape-recorders and resolute curiosity fanned out across New York City, seeking true-life stories of 9/11. The 449 accounts they came back with, on more than 400 hours of tape, captured the horror, and sometimes, the spiritual transcendence of those days. But something else happened, too. The interviewers, working for Columbia University's 9/11 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project, became entangled themselves in the stories they'd heard. (New York Times)

New Study Will Examine Firefighters' Mental Health - Nov 13, 2002
The union representing city firefighters announced yesterday that it has launched a massive study of nearly half its members to examine their mental health and the factors that cause excessive stress on and off the job. The Uniformed Firefighters Association said the study will be conducted by Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, which will poll 3,000 firefighters and 300 retirees. (New York Post)

9/11 Mental-Health Funding for City Schools Stalls - Oct 22, 2002
Students haunted by the terror attacks will have to wait for extra mental-health counseling as the feds and the state dawdle in getting money to city schools. So far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has distributed up $8.9 million of the $40 million that school officials deem necessary to deal with the emotional fallout from Sept. 11, according to Education Department records. (New York Daily News)

A WTC Survivor Offers Thanks to Therapists - Oct 6, 2002
World Trade Center survivor Lauren Manning thanked the occupational therapists who helped her, in front of a crowd of therapists gathered at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University for their annual state conference. (Newsday)

September 11 and Mental Health: The Profession Tests Its Limits - Sep 11, 2002
In the midst of the crisis following the September 11 attacks, the city's abundance of mental health professionals turned out to be a mixed blessing. There was no shortage of help, but few practitioners were trained in disaster response. City officials and agencies like the Red Cross had little control over therapists who wandered into firehouses, made their way to ground zero or stopped people on the street to offer counseling. Also, for the first few days no mechanism was in place to allow researchers to collect data that could teach crucial lessons about why some people are resilient while others are not, and which treatments are effective for whom. (New York Times)

City Seeks Names of Students Struggling After 9/11 - Sep 10, 2002
Six months after Sept. 11, an anonymous survey of more than 8,000 New York City schoolchildren found that one in 10 was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and 26 percent had at least one of seven other mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Now, city officials want to know who these children are. (Newsday)

For Psychologist, Year of Grief Brings New Understanding - Sep 10, 2002
"The past year has forced me to cross the border from provider to patient, and it taught me how much I did not know," writes psychologist Robert Klitzman, whose sister died in the World Trade Center attacks. (New York Times)

Post-9/11 Coping, From Preparedness to Fatalism - Sep 10, 2002
Some New Yorkers are preparing for another terrorist attack by loading up on safety devices; others are getting their affairs in order. Parents and single people alike are weighing the scary possibilities and quietly pursuing a strategy of personal preparedness. (New York Times)

New Yorkers Still Fearful One Year Later - Sep 7, 2002
An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers think about the September 11 attacks at least once a week, with almost half thinking about them at least once a day, according to a poll from Newsday. Furthermore, some New Yorkers from outside Manhattan are taking less frequent trips into Manhattan, while over 70 percent of those surveyed foresee another terrorist attack taking place in the United States in the future. (Newsday)

New Yorkers Stressed, Few Seek Help - Sep 6, 2002
A government study of 3,512 people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut found that 75 percent reported having emotional problems after Sept. 11, but only 12 percent asked for help, even from friends and family (Associated Press)

Poll Finds Children Still Traumatized by 9/11 - Sep 4, 2002
Nearly a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, children in New York City and nationwide are still showing signs of psychological trauma related to the disaster, a poll has found. Sixty-nine percent of parents in New York - and more than 40 percent of parents nationwide - say nightmares, anxiety, headaches and depression continue to plague their children. (Associated Press)

9/11 Counseling Shunned - Aug 22, 2002
Project Liberty, an unprecedented federal counseling program designed to help New Yorkers traumatized by the Sept. 11 attacks is being faulted by some mental health experts for trying to treat millions who have no direct link to the tragedy. In May, the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave the state $132 million for Project Liberty. The grant was the largest of its kind in FEMA's history and came on top of a previous $22.7 million allocation. But through last week, only 220,000 people had reached out to Project Liberty. (New York Daily News)

Program to Cover Psychiatric Help for 9/11 Families - Aug 21, 2002
The American Red Cross and the September 11th Fund said yesterday that they would underwrite the expense of extended mental health treatment for people directly affected by the terrorist attacks last year. The effort may be the most ambitious ever undertaken by charitable organizations to address the emotional needs of disaster victims. (New York Times)

Some Lower Manhattan Residents Make Plans to be Elsewhere - Aug 11, 2002
While the city busies itself with ceremony schedules, some Lower Manhattan residents are making plans to be elsewhere on Sept. 11. (New York Times)

A Hard Year for 9/11 Victims' Children - Aug 9, 2002
With the coming anniversary of the day the world fell down, some in the adult world will try to have Sept. 11, 2002, signify the date on which life moves on. But for the children who lost a parent, sometimes two parents, or for those who never found the parent's body, some fear that the confusion has left some unmedicated sores that will fester. In the long term, child psychologists foresee anxieties, irrational fear of death, aggression, attachment disorders. (New York Times)

Remembering Sept. 11 in a Personal Way, or Maybe Ignoring It - Aug 8, 2002
The Times asked 20 New Yorkers how they plan to observe the anniversary of Sept. 11, and got at least 10 different answers. While some plan to stay at home and remember Sept. 11 with their familes, others said they had had more than enough remembrance of Sept. 11 already. (New York Times)

Mending the Hearts Broken on Sept. 11 Is as Difficult as Explaining the Cost - Jul 22, 2002
Charity officials are struggling to prove that money allocated for providing mental health care to those traumatized by the Sept. 11 attacks is being well spent. (New York Times)

Career Profiles of 9/11 Dead Arouse Anxiety - Jul 9, 2002
The staff of Cantor Fitzgerald have prepared a detailed accounting of the performances and prospects of the firm and its 658 lost employees. The book is meant to arm families of Sept. 11 victims in their fight for federal compensation awards. But as both those who are assembling the Cantor document and those about to open it realize, it could well be yet one more minefield for a bruised and fragile population of survivors. The document and other similarly detailed packages being prepared by the companies with the greatest losses at the World Trade Center are a kind of emotionally loaded statistical yearbook. (New York Times)

At Camp for Sept. 11 Children, Grief Is Close - Jul 6, 2002
There are dozens of summer camps running programs for families shattered by Sept. 11. Some have built-in bereavement programs. Others are simply intended to let children get away and have fun. But all the programs are grappling with a common obstacle: while many children could benefit from a getaway in the country, many are not ready to be away from their remaining parents. (New York Times)

Relatives Channel Grief into Activism - Jun 30, 2002
Gov. Pataki's promise yesterday that no one will build on the footprint of the Twin Towers is in part the fruits of dogged work by kin of 9/11 victims who have risen to lead family groups to become a powerful force in the city and nation. (New York Post)

Cops Getting Help for 9/11 Stress - Jun 21, 2002
So far, nearly 500 police officers, primarily first responders to the World Trade Center attacks and Emergency Service Unit officers who spent months digging at Ground Zero, have used the police department's counseling program. (New York Daily News)

9/11 Paramedics Seek Counseling - Jun 13, 2002
After two suicides by paramedics who worked extensively at Ground Zero, the cityÕs paramedics union called on the Fire Department yesterday to implement mandatory counseling for those who worked at Ground Zero. (Newsday)

More Drinking and Smoking in 9/11 Study - May 29, 2002
Manhattan residents drank more alcohol and smoked more tobacco and marijuana after the Sept. 11 attack, researchers say. The researchers, at the New York Academy of Medicine, surveyed nearly 1,000 residents in the two months after Sept. 11. A quarter of respondents said they drank more than usual in the five to eight weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center; nearly 10 percent said they had been smoking more cigarettes and more than 3 percent said they had been smoking more marijuana. (Associated Press)

A Third Of Public School Children Surveyed Will Need Mental Health Assistance After September 11 - May 14, 2002
N.R. Kleinfield profiles individual children to illustrate the conclusions of a recent study by the Board of Education. The study found that "roughly 200,000 of the 712,000 public school children in grades 4 through 12 were candidates for some sort of mental health intervention - at least a visit with a mental health professional - because of the lingering trauma of September 11." (New York Times)

Report on Mental Health of City Children After September 11 Prompts Consideration of Treatment - May 13, 2002
A recently published study by the city's Board of Education found that about 75,000 of the more than 710,000 public school students in grades 4 through 12 are suffering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and as many as 190,000 have mental health problems, both related and unrelated to 9/11. The study and the underlying reality have spurred an intense debate about how to proceed. Psychologists who specialize in trauma want the Board of Education to screen students and find those with emotional problems -- especially those suffering in silence, crying themselves to sleep or having nightmares or getting psychosomatic aches and pains. (New York Times)

Thousands Of Children Throughout Five Boroughs Showing Signs of Mental Stress After September 11 - May 2, 2002
Tens of thousands of public-school children throughout New York City, not just near Ground Zero, are experiencing chronic nightmares, fear of public places, severe anxiety and other mental health problems months after the World Trade Center attack, a study conducted for the Board of Education has found. The study estimates that 10.5 percent of the children in the 4th through the 12th grades suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after Sept. 11. Even more (15 percent) suffered agoraphobia, or fear of public places. (New York Times)

New Yorkers More Fearful of Terrorism Than Residents of Other Cities - Apr 26, 2002
New Yorkers are more worried about future terrorism than other Americans, a new poll shows. 22% of New Yorkers worry a great deal about another attack, according to a survey by the Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston. By contrast, 14% in Chicago and 13% in Los Angeles and Houston worry a lot about the possibility of attacks on their cities, the center said. (New York Daily News)

Dispatchers Still Haunted by the Voices of Sept. 11 - Apr 17, 2002
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly recognized 192 police communications workers yesterday for the vital service they provided on Sept. 11. Many recounted their troubling stories. In many cases, their voices were the last voices the victims heard. There were more than 3,000 calls within the first 18 minutes; more than 57,000 calls in the 24 hours after the first plane hit at 8:46 a.m. It was the single busiest day ever for the dispatchers, with nearly twice the average number of calls logged. (New York Times)

People Still Experiencing Trauma Throughout New York Metro Region - Apr 7, 2002
A new report released today from the Red Cross finds residents across the New York region are continuing to experience increased symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The survey, conducted by Strategic Surveys International, is the first report to document the widespread prevalence of trauma beyond Manhattan. Researchers found 30 percent of those interviewed were at increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, 43 percent expressed feelings of hopelessness and fear about the future. Thirty-one percent said they worried about the ongoing threat of terrorism or that more people could die, and 22 percent feared for the safety and security of their families. (Newsday)

Americans Slept Less After September 11 - Apr 2, 2002
Almost seven out of 10 Americans experienced some sleep disturbance after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, says a survey that also shows almost half the people say their sleep is only fair or poor. (Associated Press)

New Study Finds Thousands in Manhattan in Need Of Psychiatric Treatment After September 11 - Mar 28, 2002
In the aftermath of the World Trade Center collapse, tens of thousands of Manhattan residents suffered emotional difficulties severe enough to warrant psychiatric treatment, according to a report in the new issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, out today. The study, a random telephone survey of 1,008 adults living below 110th Street, is the first to appear in a peer-reviewed journal. The overall rates of post-traumatic stress and depression found in the study were two to three times as high as those normally found in any given year, the researchers said. (New York Times)

As Chapel Closes For Cleaning, Workers Miss A Sanctuary From Ground Zero - Mar 24, 2002
When St. Paul's Chapel closes its doors after the Easter sunrise service for an interior and exterior cleaning, the recovery workers who have relied on it for warm meals, quiet reflection and a place to sleep are not sure where they will go. The cleaning, which is expected to last a month and cost several hundred thousand dollars, is necessary to reopen the church to its congegration and visitors. (New York Times)

New York City Colleges Cite September 11 For Drop in Number of Applications - Mar 22, 2002
While applications at many selective colleges around the country grew this year, New York University, Columbia and Barnard College all experienced declines, with some admissions officials blaming Sept. 11 jitters by families uneasy about sending their children to New York City. (New York Times)

Renewed Feelings Of Loss And Urgency At Ground Zero As Cleanup Nears Completion - Mar 17, 2002
With more bodies being found in a newly uncovered area of Ground Zero, the feeling of urgency to recover the bodies has returned to the site, something not felt since the early days of the cleanup. At the same time, a feeling of loss hangs over the workers, and not just for their fallen brothers found in the site. With the amount of dirt and rubble rapidly diminishing, workers who have developed a kinship with their recovery team, many having worked seven days a week since September, are having a hard time letting go. (New York Times)

Mental Health Experts Say Problems Still Abound Six Months Later - Mar 11, 2002
Mental health professionals across the country say the psychological fallout from Sept. 11 -- affecting people with chronic psychiatric and addiction problems and people who had never experienced anything like the wrenching angst they are battling now -- is strikingly pervasive. They say that they are seeing more serious problems now -- and more evidence of a widespread anxiety -- than they did in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, attributing it to a delayed reaction after the shock of the attacks wore off. (New York Times)

Poll Shows Majority of New Yorkers Felt Mentally or Emotionally Distressed After Sept. 11 - Mar 10, 2002
A poll conducted by the Daily News and cable station NY1 revealed that 68% of New Yorkers feel the city is as safe or safer than any other place in America. 70% of those polled said they do not believe the Environmental Protection Agency or other government agencies' reports that the air quality around Ground Zero is safe. 59% of all New Yorkers -- including 67% of those living or working downtown -- say they suffered financial setbacks after the terror attacks. And 56% also admit that at some point after Sept. 11 they were racked by depression, sleeplessness, anxiety or nightmares. (New York Daily News)

Second Wave of Emotional Trauma Beginning To Hit New Yorkers - Mar 5, 2002
Nearly six months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, psychologists say a second wave of emotional trauma is hitting New Yorkers, and it may be tougher to treat than the first. After a lull in November and December, calls to employee-assistance programs and private counselors in the city have started up again. And while it was acceptable -- even desirable, in a way -- to confess to feelings of stress a few months ago, now revealing anxiety may be riskier and more difficult than immediately after the attacks. (Wall Street Journal)

Health Department Campaign Aims At Psychological Healing - Feb 3, 2002
Hand-scrawled posters that read like pages torn from a diary are promoting New York Needs Us Strong, a city Health Department campaign offering free crisis counseling for anyone feeling the strain of the World Trade Center attacks. The city program is part of Project Liberty, a state initiative funded by a $23 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The campaign refers people to LifeNet, a 24-hour hotline operated by the Mental Health Association of New York City. Although almost five months have elapsed since Sept. 11, the demand for psychological counseling services has continued to rise, experts say. LifeNet saw its calls double after Sept. 11. In December, the state started promoting the hotline in television and radio ads, and the number rose further: The hotline received 11,650 calls in December and January, compared with 5,300 a year earlier, said director John Draper. (Newsday)

Terror Attacks Take Hidden Toll - Jan 20, 2002
Posttraumatic stress disorder is afflicting much of the NYPD and FDNY since September 11. According to their own departments, 1,150 police officers and 1,800 firefighters have sought counseling since September 11. At any given time since September 11, there are 75 firefighters "off-line" for stress-related reasons - an exponential jump from the pre-September 11 average of 5 to 10. Both departments are urging their members to seek counseling, despite cultures that discourage seeking help. Experts warn that those who are not manifesting posttraumatic stress symptoms now may still do so a year or more later. (New York Daily News)

Downtown Is Slower to Embrace Optimism - Dec 22, 2001
Three months after it was blanketed with smoke and choking ash, Lower Manhattan has largely returned to its former harried self. Gone are the National Guardsmen who stood sentinel at the avenues below Canal Street, checking ID's. Most businesses in the area formerly known as the frozen zone have reopened. Some of SoHo's most stylish restaurants, once eerily empty, are happily turning away diners on Saturday nights. "The pessimism has lifted and there's a joyousness in the air," said Ashley Massie, 32, a Stuyvesant High School teacher and Battery Park City resident who almost moved away. "For the first time in months, we feel like we can live again." But for every optimist, there are a dozen pessimists still fitful and sad, uncertain whether their beloved neighborhoods will fully recover (New York Times)

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