Monday, April 20, 2015

Boston Strong as Marathon Goes On; MH Help Still Available

Runners took off this morning in the Boston Marathon, two years after the bombing that claimed three lives and left 257 injured. A jury on April 8 convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on 30 counts related to the crime.

The Boston-area health care system responded well to the immediate disaster thanks to extensive prior training, said Frederick Stoddard, M.D. (left), a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital. However, some of those wounded in 2013 or members of their families continue to face the physical and psychological consequences of the bombing. 

Since then, many have turned for help to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, created by the state’s Office of Victim Assistance.

“We’re helping normal people dealing with abnormal circumstances that disrupt daily functioning,” the center’s executive director, Kermit Crawford, Ph.D., told Psychiatric News. He is an associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical Campus. “We are a hub for services, not just providing them ourselves but coordinating with other agencies.”

The center addresses not only behavioral health issues but also matters relating to employment, compensation, medical services, brain injury, hearing loss, caregiver and peer support, and legal services—all of which can affect victims or their survivors. During the recent trial, the center placed clinicians and patient navigators in the court building for survivors or family members who chose to attend. Such options for care may be needed for some time.

“As a psychiatrist, I understand that reactions to trauma may not occur right away but often come out months or years later,” said Brent Forester, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist at McLean Hospital who completed the 2013 marathon. “It’s important to get that message out.”

For more in Psychiatric News about the response to the Boston Marathon bombing, see “Boston Continues to Heal as Trial Wraps Up for Accused Marathon Bomber” and “Psychiatrists Act Quickly After Bombings In Boston.”

The book Disaster Psychiatry: Readiness, Evaluation, and Treatment is available from American Psychiatric Publishing at

--aml  (Image: Courtesy Frederick Stoddard)


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