The red purse and human remains: personal and professional experiences of 9/11 mental health workers

Karen J. Meltzer, Samina Mahesar, David E. Pollio, Carol S. North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mental health research on the 9/11 attacks has primarily focused on posttraumatic stress disorder among survivors. Fewer studies have examined mental health effects on workers who provided postdisaster mental health care for the local population in the aftermath of the attacks. A focus group of New York City-based mental health workers was conducted in 2007 to develop a better understanding of their experiences of providing this care. From this discussion, six themes were identified as topics of primary concern to the participants and coded as: Day of 9/11, 9/11-Related Emotional Responses, Symbolic Reminders, Mental Health Worker as Survivor, Disaster Recovery and Mental Health Services, and Political and Societal Impact. These professionals characterized their disaster mental health work as challenging yet rewarding. They largely focused on their own personal reactions to their 9/11 experience and reported that the opportunity to share them with colleagues was therapeutic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-669
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Work in Mental Health
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Keywords

  • Disaster
  • September 11 terrorist attacks
  • focus groups
  • mental health
  • social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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