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Study Looks at Mental Health Impact of Lead Water Crisis and Prior Victimization on Flint Residents

An OVC-sponsored study conducted 5 years after the water crisis in Flint, Michigan began found that 1 in 5 Flint residents, or roughly 22,600 people, were estimated to meet the criteria for past year clinical depression, and 1 in 4, or 25,000 people, were estimated to have had past year PTSD; while 14,300 may have had both depression and PTSD in 2019–2020.

Flint residents surveyed who had experienced physical or sexual assault were over three times more likely to have depression and over six times more likely to have PTSD than those without this history.

These findings highlight the need for first responders to administer surveys to assess exposure to potentially traumatic events to assess the mental health needs of victims of man-made and natural disasters.

Just over one-third of Flint residents were offered any kind of mental health services after the water crisis began. Now that Flint’s water infrastructure has been updated, the study suggests that more services may be needed to address the long-term mental health needs of Flint residents impacted by the crisis and other potentially traumatic events.

Read the full study

This research was funded under an OVC award to the Medical University of South Carolina’s National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center and the work of one of the study’s authors, Dr. Rothbaum, was supported by grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Date Published: September 21, 2022