EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – With an office located just blocks away from what some have been calling “ground zero” in East Palestine, staff with Insight Clinical Counseling started hearing from residents soon after last month’s train derailment.
“People that have had some difficulties with peak anxiety, difficulty sleeping, some triggers around ‘I hear a train whistle’ or just a lot of trauma responses for sure,” said Jessica Oates with Insight Clinical Counseling.
Although Oates operates a half dozen clinics in the area, hers is the only one in her hometown. She says while some are already feeling the mental health impact of the derailment and its aftermath, others may not notice problems for some time.
“For a lot of people, adrenaline is still pumping and they may not even see mental health symptoms for a little bit down the line,” Oates said.
“Trauma responses are normal responses to abnormal situations,” said Karen Guerrieri, who is on the board of Mahoning County’s trauma and resiliency coalition known as Stand Grow Thrive.
Guerrieri says that while the impact of the derailment can cause both mental and physical problems, it can even affect whether victims are able to trust others.
“It challenges our safety, and when our safety’s challenged, our ability to trust is challenged, like, ‘Where am I safe? Who am I safe with? Who can I rely on?'” Guerrieri said.
Both counselors stress those who are feeling overwhelmed by the derailment or who notice others having problems should speak with a professional.
“Don’t try to suppress or bottle up your distress because it’s going to come out and manifest in other ways,” Guerrieri said.
Insight Clinical Counseling has set up a hotline for residents and others needing help because of the derailment. That number is 330-846-1797. It is answered 24/7 with volunteer staff making callbacks.