I know many people are struggling with how to make sense of the recent shooting at the school in Connecticut and other shootings that have occurred in various parts of the country in recent months. Below are resources you may find helpful as you discuss these events with family, friends, students, colleagues, and clients.
1. Mental Health America has developed guidelines to help Americans respond and cope with tragic events, which can be found at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster.
To guide discussions about the shooting, Mental Health America offers the following suggestions for parents as they communicate with young people in the area and across the nation:
- Talk honestly about the incident, without graphic detail, and share some of your own feelings about it.
- Encourage young people to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings, and validate the young person’s feelings and concerns.
- Limit television viewing. It can be difficult to process the images and messages in news reports.
- Recognize what may be behind a young person’s behavior. They may minimize their concerns outwardly, but may become argumentative, withdrawn or allow their school performance to decline.
- Keep the dialogue going even after media coverage subsides. Continue to talk about feelings and discuss actions being taken to make schools and communities safer.
- Seek help when necessary. If you are worried about a young person’s reaction or have ongoing concerns about his/her behavior or emotions, contact a mental health professional at their school or at your community mental health center. Your local Mental Health America Affiliate can direct you to resources in your community.
Mental Health America’s website has a number of additional resources on its website to help provide support and perspective to those directly affected by the tragedy and the nation as a whole (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster.)
2. Comprehensive list of resources related to child trauma and school crises developed by the Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland (http://csmh.umaryland.edu).