The fear of being judged by not only their community, but also mental health professionals prevents many African-Americans in Philadelphia from seeking the required treatment for trauma, found a recent study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing. The findings, published in the journal Ethnicity and Health, revealed that in case of African-American men, residing in Philadelphia and suffering from traumatic injuries, many a times, psychological wounds remained untreated.
The participants further disclosed that the treatment was perceived to be either inaccessible or too expensive. Apart from this, a social taboo or stigma associated with mental health treatment also prevented them from seeking immediate help. The biased views of the society held them from seeking treatment even from affordable rehabs or undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy for their trauma. “It really was a combination,” said lead author Terry Richmond, associate dean for research and innovation at the Penn School of Nursing.
The research found that the doctors also inadvertently contributed to the stigma. Usually, they would not warn trauma patients of the correlation between traumatic physical injuries and psychological wounds. Ideally, doctors attending to patients with traumatic injuries should prepare the victims before sending them home, said Richmond. They are prone to feeling sad, lonely, helpless, and even guilty. At times, they are constantly reminded of their injury and the associated pain. Keeping this in mind, doctors should advise them to keep away from the triggers that reminded them of the injury.
Many experienced depression or PTSD within months of trauma
The researchers chose the study participants from among 550 individuals who were a part of a larger cohort dealing with trauma in Philadelphia. All of them were hospitalized for traumatic injuries like stabbing, gunshot wounds, injuries sustained in vehicular accidents, etc. The participants were between the ages of 18 and 67, and 60 percent of them earned less than $1,700 a month. Majority of them suffered from trauma symptoms, with 68 percent of them experiencing depression and over half of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) three months after their injuries.
Many of them confessed to the fact that they had a tough time in falling asleep, and they constantly relived what had happened to them, said Richmond. They also felt suicidal at times, he added. Long after the physical injury is healed, trauma symptoms, if not treated in time might lead to serious mental illnesses later. Yet, much to the dismay of the researchers, majority of them did not receive or seek treatment for their condition.
Dealing with trauma
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that to cope with trauma and overcome a disaster, one needs the help of the family and the community. Hence, connecting with family, friends, and members of the community, taking care of oneself and one another are a few steps that can be taken by victims of trauma to alleviate the pain. Remember, living with a debilitating mental disorder like depression or PTSD can be tough.
If you have a loved one suffering from a trauma and are looking for residential treatment centers for trauma, Sovereign Health can help. The leading behavioral health treatment provider in the United States can offer evidence-based and comprehensive trauma treatment programs. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our representatives for more information on our treatment centers for trauma, which are the best in the country.