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America Recovers: Rising Need for Crisis Counseling

Aired September 27, 2001 - 05:51   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in another effort to help victims and relatives move on, congressional leaders say that they are going to push for a plan that would force medical insurers to expand their mental health coverage.

CNN's Sheila Kast takes a look at the rising need now for crisis counseling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHEILA KAST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The September 11 attacks are generating tens of thousands of psychiatric casualties, doctors told a Senate panel, including thousands of children who watched the disaster unfold on television.

DR. CYNTHIA PFEFFER, PSYCHIATRIST, NEW YORK HOSPITAL: Most children will experience some anxiety and anger as a result of these events. Children who have lost loved ones are also especially vulnerable to depression.

KAST: Of course the rescue workers and firefighters are most severely at risk.

DR. KERRY KELLY, DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL SERVICES, FDNY: The catastrophic losses that we have suffered have created a pain so deep, because every part of our department is affected by these deaths. There are no safe havens. We have lost family at every level.

KAST: But mental stress has reached broadly across the U.S.

DR. CAROL NORTH, PSYCHIATRIST, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Many feel keyed up, on edge, hypervigilant and hyperaroused, others simply cry. Our nation's sense of security has been replaced with the new emotion of vulnerability.

DR. SPENCER ETH, PSYCHIATRIST, ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL: The incidents of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse has already increased in the New York City area, though the scope of its impact has yet to be measured.

KAST (on camera): The psychiatrists urged insurance companies not to skimp on paying for counseling and other treatment, and they asked Congress to come up with more money for services and for training professionals who provide them. Committee members hope to make provisions part of the defense authorization bill which is likely to move quickly.

(voice-over): The psychiatrists testified it's not that every American will need treatment.

PFEFFER: The vast majority of adults and children will get through this generally quite well within, at most, approximately two months.

KAST: But many others, both close to the disaster and many at a distance, will need help to cope with its affects for years to come.

Sheila Kast for CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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