Boston Marathon Bombing Survivors Celebrate Passage of Mental Health Law
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Advocates for mental health are applauding the passage of a new law which will expand mental health support for survivors of natural disasters and terrorist attacks, like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
The Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act allows FEMA to provide mental health services for survivors of not just "major disaster declarations," like the COVID-19 pandemic, but events considered smaller "emergency declarations" which took place in Boston.
Manya Chylinski, a survivor of the marathon bombing, said she felt invisible as she searched for help.
"I felt that having mental health wounds didn't count and people weren't thinking about it in the big picture of the response," Chylinski recounted.
Chylinski met other survivors of the bombing and learned they, too, were in need of care before reaching out to Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., who introduced the bill in 2021, before it was recently signed by President Biden as part of the omnibus spending bill.
Pressley said widespread and untreated trauma will likely the next pandemic in the U.S., given the 4,000 emergency declarations nationwide in the past decade; declarations providing survivors access to federal resources for trauma recovery.
"Trauma is nonlinear and indiscriminatory, and our federal response should meet every impacted individual exactly where they are," Pressley asserted.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, 38% of Boston-area military veterans diagnosed with PTSD cited emotional distress as did 11% of children. Pressley added the new law also aims to help the first responders who face trauma every day.
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