The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Easterseals Addresses Americans’ Strong Misconceptions on PTSD  

June marks PTSD Awareness Month, a time intended to raise public awareness and reduce the stigma associated with the disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that some people can develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.   

Earlier this month, the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) revealed findings of its America’s Health PTSD Pulse Survey, which looked at Americans’ general knowledge and understanding of PTSD. “As a means to address any misunderstandings that surround PTSD, we wanted to take a look at Americans’ perceptions of the disorder,” said CVN President and CEO, Dr. Anthony Hassan. “What we found is that there are strong misconceptions on everything from symptoms to treatments.”   

America's Mental Health PTSD Survey InfographicAmong the highlights of the May 2021 survey conducted by The Harris Poll of more than 2,000 U.S. adults are:

● Two-thirds (67%) of Americans believe the majority of veterans experience PTSD.

FACT: PTSD impacts 11-20% of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, approximately 12% of Gulf War veterans, and 15% of Vietnam veterans.

● One in four (26%) Americans believe the majority of people with PTSD are violent/dangerous.

FACT: People with PTSD are not dangerous. Although PTSD is associated with an increased risk of violence, the majority of veterans and non-veterans with PTSD have never engaged in violence.

● Nearly one in four (23%) Americans believe PTSD is not treatable.

FACT: PTSD is treatable. There are multiple treatment options that have been proven effective for treating PTSD. These include Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), which are both research-supported, short-term effective therapies to address PTSD.

● Two-thirds (65%) of Americans who have been diagnosed with PTSD say that civil unrest, political polarization & isolation created by COVID-19 has negatively impacted their recovery.

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Easterseals provides high-quality, accessible mental health services to post-9/11 veterans, active duty service members, and military family members. Its team of clinicians screens all clients for PTSD, and has staff certified and experienced in the treatment of PTSD.

“The misconceptions that exist around PTSD are obstacles standing in the way of people receiving critical mental health care,” said Hassan. “We want to help educate the public on the facts to destigmatize PTSD and ultimately move more people who might need it towards treatment.” There are multiple evidence-based treatment plans used by the clinicians at The Cohen Clinic at Easterseals. Prolonged Exposure Therapy helps clients process traumatic events by gradual repeated exposure to trauma-related memories, emotions, and situations. And Cognitive Processing Therapy targets ways of thinking that might keep clients “stuck” in their PTSD. Many who engage in treatment recover fully from PTSD.

“A lack of understanding feeds into the stigma associated with mental health challenges such as PTSD, which can deter people from seeking care,” adds Hassan. Those in need of treatment can call 240-847-7500 to schedule a Telehealth service, or visit The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Easterseals’ website for more information.

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