Study: Flint residents feel decline in mental state - WNEM TV 5

Study: Flint residents feel decline in mental state

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

As new pipes are planted around Flint, residents are still feeling the effects of the water crisis.

Besides physical ailments such as rashes and aches, a new report released Thursday showed many residents claim they're feeling a decline in their mental state as well.

According to the study, two in three households reported a new or worsening behavior change with at least one adult living there. The study refers to adults as people ages 21 and older. They would have been at least 18 when the water crisis began.

Among other symptoms residents reported trouble concentrating, depression and anxiety.

"Flint residents who are already dealing with poverty, neglect, racism are now faced with drinking bottled water, not knowing when the end is near," said Pamela Pugh, chief public health adviser Flint.

That burden of not knowing what the next drink of water will bring has taken a toll on Flint residents.

Pugh said it's reasonable to believe the ongoing water crisis is leaving lasting effects on the people of Flint.

"According to the data, 66 percent of those questioned that were over the age of 21 said that they had an increased or worsened behavior health issues," Pugh said.

Vicki Johnson-Lawrence, epidemiologist for the University of Michigan, is working with the city of Flint on ways to combat the problems.

"Thinking about the ways we can strengthen families, perhaps that's through sports activities if that's what youth wants to engage in. Or maybe it's art. Or maybe it's a number of other activities that have been sponsored and supported in the city in the long term," Johnson-Lawrence said.

Whatever the solution is, parents like Melissa Mays said it can't come soon enough. She said she's noticed a change in the behavior and mental health of her own children.

"Their focus is gone. They're having a hard time concentrating. They're having issues in school. But also, they fight. They snap at each other. They've snapped at me. Which doesn't happened at the drop of a hat," Mays said.

Mays is a mother of three and has been a vocal advocate for Flint's water recovery.

She said now that the new health findings are on paper, the fight now continues to get Medicaid funding for water crisis victims over the age of 21 who are not eligible for that funding.

"Well, the Medicaid expansion doesn't cover them, only under the age of 21. Which is great for the kids, but what about the adults that need to be healthy to take care of those kids? And what about the seniors? Any kind of health issues they have are just going to be exacerbated by the water crisis," Mays said.

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