For those having problems coping, a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Program is available to help pay for mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Funded by the American Red Cross, this program provides financial assistance to those who were affected by 9/11 and their family members, including spouses and children, or others who may have shared a home with them at the time of the attacks.
According to Lisa Furst, clinical coordinator of the Sept. 11 Recovery Program, over 8,000 people have enrolled in the program since its launch in August 2002.
Many are still suffering Furst said that even four years later, it's not uncommon for people to have lingering symptoms that were brought about by the trauma of 9/11.
"It was huge event in the history of this country, and there are going to be people that are still suffering long-term effects," Furst said. She added that there are also a large number of people who have been suffering but have not sought out treatment.
She noted that the program is currently enrolling about 50 people per week, but that she expects that number to rise in the next couple of weeks.
"The anniversary is a marker event," she said, "where symptoms can intensify."
What to look for According to mental health professionals, it is important to recognize symptoms of anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress. Signs include decreased appetite, weight loss, sleep disturbance, drug use, clenching jaw, sweaty palms, memory loss, a feeling that life is not worth living, and an inability to take pleasure in the activities that one used to enjoy the most.
Mental health professionals claim that many people in the Hudson County area still experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition that can lie dormant before it surfaces. PTSD is found in those who experienced, witnessed, or were confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of one's self or others. People may keep flashing back to the event and experience intense fear, helplessness or horror.
Experts estimate that a quarter or more of those affected may have symptoms severe enough to interfere with everyday life for months and even years.
Types of treatment The American Red Cross helps cover the cost of mental health treatment, including individual, family, couples and group counseling, auricular acupuncture, and psychotropic medication.
"We don't want financial aid to be a barrier from someone receiving treatment," Furst said.
The program provides assistance for: up to 32 sessions of outpatient mental health counseling or auricular acupuncture; up to 32 sessions of outpatient substance abuse counseling or auricular acupuncture; up to $1,500 for psychotropic medications and substance abuse screenings; up to 30 days of partial or inpatient hospitalization for mental health conditions; up to 30 days of partial or inpatient hospitalization for substance abuse conditions; and for young people through age 21, up to eight hours of psychological evaluations and testing.
Mental health professionals who administer the 9/11 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Program, as well as clients who were affected by 9/11 and enrolled in the program, are available to discuss anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms resulting from terrorism and the benefits of getting help.
Who's eligible Participation is also open to those who lost a family member; were seriously injured; worked south of Chambers Street whether or not they were at work that day; lost a job or at least 30 percent of income directly as a result of the attacks; attended school close to the World Trade Center; or were deployed officially as rescue or recovery workers.
According to Furst, participants may seek a variety of mental health or substance abuse services including individual or group counseling, medication, in-patient or out-patient detoxification or rehabilitation from the licensed provider of their choice. For more information, visit www.9-11MentalHealth.org or call (800) LIFE-NET, the 24/7 mental health hotline operated by the Mental Health Association of New York City.