Children with relatives who were called upon to participate in the interagency manhunt following the Boston Marathon attack carried a particularly heavy mental health burden, according to a Depression and Anxiety study that included surveys of Boston-area parents and other caretakers.
Researchers found that the proportion of youth with likely PTSD was 5.7 times higher among youth with relatives in the manhunt than among youth without. Children with relatives in the manhunt also experienced more emotional symptoms and hyperactivity or inattention.
"Beyond informing our specific understanding of kids' mental health after the Boston Marathon bombing, this work also speaks more broadly to the very heavy mental health toll that can be endured by having a parent employed in a high-risk occupation characterized by day-to-day confrontations with physical danger and extreme stress," said lead author Dr. Jonathan Comer. "When these kids are suffering, their needs may be difficult to detect, but we must find ways to get them the help that they need."