Tips for parents, families on how to deal with tragedies such as Florida school shooting

The Oakland Community Health Network released the following tips for families and individuals to manage stress or trauma associated with national tragedies such as the recent shooting at a high school in Florida. 

Tips for Parents:  

  • Acknowledge what happened -- If your child is talking or asking about traumatic events, it’s important for the caregivers / loved ones in their life to acknowledge what happened, provide age-appropriate factual information and support. 
  • Parents may want to approach older children who may have seen the news or videos on social media and find out what they know and what their thoughts / feelings are about what happened. 
  • Recognize the effect this has on your child. --Talk to your child about their thoughts and emotions as it pertains to the event and validate their feelings and concerns. With mass shootings in public places and schools, this is a valid concern for them and all adults need to take their viewpoint and concerns into consideration.  
  • Help your child to feel safe. -- A sense of normalcy and routine as soon as possible after an even helps to re-establish a child's sense of safety and structure. Discuss whatever positive aspects can be found in tragic events such s the quick police response and how community members and citizens across the country are coming together to support those affected.  

Tips for Adults: 

  • Everyone experiences events and trauma in different ways and that however they think or feel after events such as this are okay to think and feel. Some people respond with fear, some anger, some shock, sadness, etc. Encourage people to talk about what they are thinking and feeling. Seek support from friends, family, or professionals if necessary. 
  • Try to get back to routines and schedules to promote feelings of consistency and balance to reduce fear and provide a feeling of returning control and predictability. 
  • Be mindful to consider the amount of exposure to the news/media, particular to children. It is okay to keep updated, but continuing to view the images, etc. will worsen and prolong the issues the person is having. 
  • Journaling and writing down thoughts/feelings and expressing helps to take the energy and what is attached from the inside and puts it outside. People tend to find this cathartic. This can also be done in other expressive ways, such as with art, poetry, etc. 

Individuals may also contact the 24-Hour Crisis Helpline for support at 800-231-1127.  

About OCHN

Oakland Community Health Network is the public mental health system responsible for identifying, influencing, and delivering services and supports to approximately 25,800 Oakland County residents, including individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, adults with mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, and persons with substance use disorders. Most of these individuals have Medicaid services.

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